After a win over the Heat on Thursday night, LeBron James announced on TNT that he will be changing his jersey number from 23 to 6 next season in an effort to start a movement to honor Michael Jordan.
James has worn the number since his sophomore year of high school and said he would start a petition to retire No. 23 throughout the league and “get everyone in the NBA to sign it.”
That includes Suns guard Jason Richardson. Richardson is probably the highest profile player in the league right now (besides LeBron, of course) who wears MJ’s number.
So would J-Rich hang up his No. 23? It looks like it. On his official Twitter page he tweeted the following earlier today:
Getting lots of tweets about changing my number 4 MJ. Im all 4 it he’s the greatest player to ever play. NBA should of retired 23 yrs ago.
The Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards and the Miami Heat have all retired No. 23 (despite the fact that Jordan never played for the Heat). James apparently wants to honor the player he grew up idolizing in the way that MLB honored Jackie Robinson (No. 42) and the NHL honored Wayne Gretzky (No. 99).
Including James and Richardson, 13 players are currently listed on rosters as No. 23. Among the most prominent are Marcus Camby of the Clippers and Kevin Martin of the Kings.
James wore No. 6 while playing for Team USA in 2008. He’s also worn the number during Cavs practices the past two years.
No help from the scheduling gods
After flopping in LA on national TV, the Suns head back to Phoenix to take on the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. But first, they get a couple much-needed days off.
Playing 10 games in seven different cities to start the season is no easy way to do it. The same can be said for taking on the defending champ Lakers in the second game of a home-road back-to-back.
One reporter asked Suns head coach Alvin Gentry after Wednesday’s romp of New Orleans whether the scheduling gods had maybe been unfair to the Suns this season. Gentry wouldn’t be baited into saying anything controversial, but did note the schedule is unusual.
“If it’s on the schedule, we’ll play it,” Gentry said. “It does seem strange that you would fly home six hours . . . play, and then get on a plane and fly again. But that’s the way the schedule reads, so we’ll play it.”
ValleyofheSuns.com’s Mike Schmitz predicted before the season that this stretch of the schedule would be the most crucial of the year. Phoenix has been tested by six returning playoff teams in seven games, so I think just about any Suns fan is pleasantly surprised with 8-2 so far.
STAT the five
Before the New Orleans game, Gentry was asked what he thought about Amare Stoudemire being listed as a center on the All-Star ballot.
“I could care less,” Gentry said.
He added that it might even benefit Stoudemire in the voting because San Antonio’s Tim Duncan is listed at forward. Duncan is averaging 14.6 points and 11.8 rebounds per game this season to Amare’s 18.1 and 7.9.
Not so unconventional
Gentry also spoke about how running a fast-paced offense like the Suns do has gotten tougher since the squad’s early days of run-n-gun.
“I don’t think anyone’s caught off guard anymore,” Gentry said.
Gentry said more teams have switched to the offense so the league is becoming more accustomed to it. Additionally, a lot of teams have altered the way they defend transition play. Many are now more willing to sacrifice a potential rebound in order to drop three players back on defense.
- The Suns are currently dead last in the league in free throw shooting at 69.3 percent. It’s baffling that they are a worse free throw shooting team without Shaq. The Suns were 26th in the NBA last season (74.4 percent) and fourth in 2007-2008 (78.3 percent).
- Leandro Barbosa said after Wednesday’s game he is still feeling a little pain in his wrist, mainly when catching passes. Since returning against the Wizards, Barbosa has averaged 9.3 points a game off the bench despite the fact that he says his shot isn’t all the way back yet.Robin Lopez, meanwhile, is walking without a boot and continues to rehab his injured left foot. The Suns hope to get him on the court practicing next week.
- The Suns remain the only team in the NBA to score 100 or more points in every game this season. They are the NBA’s highest scorers (shocking!), averaging 111.3 points per game.