ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 11: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers stands on the court during the game against the Orlando Magic on November 11, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
"He can't get the logo [Hall of Famer Jerry West's silhouette adorns the NBA's logo], and if he can't, something has to be done. I feel like no NBA player should wear 23. I'm starting a petition, and I've got to get everyone in the NBA to sign it. Now, if I'm not going to wear No. 23, then nobody else should be able to wear it."
Leaving aside the massive ego it takes to say, “If I’m not going to wear 23 nobody should,” LeBron's suggestion is an arguably altruistic move on the surface. In Major League Baseball, Jackie Robinson’s number is retired. In the NHL, nobody can wear Wayne Gretzky’s 99.
But really, James’s move sounds like the latest Nike public relations stunt.
Earlier that same day, Nike guy Dwyane Wade was announced as the guy who will first wear the 25th anniversary Air Jordan’s, which will be released in February. Coincidentally, that happened to be the same day that Wade was playing James and the Cavaliers on national television.
Then, lo and behold, who shows up to the game to watch but Michael Jordan himself. Serendipity!
Jordan and the Jordan line of shoes still dominate the high-end sneaker market — like 90% of it dominate. The 25th Anniversary Air Jordan’s are going to get a world of hype, but the best way to get everyone on board is a viral campaign. Something that seems organic. Like, um, maybe the biggest star in the game changing his number to honor MJ and saying everyone else should, too. And hyping that until the new shoes come out.
But all of that is probably just a coincidence.