What really lies in a jersey number?
It remains to be seen whether or not the recent decision by LeBron James to change his jersey number from 23 to 6 is as big a deal as everyone is making it out to be these days.
Some say it’s out of respect for Michael Jordan, but others wonder if it’s simply a marketing ploy to sell more jerseys for who is already one of the game’s most popular players.
One thing is for certain, and it’s the fact fans shouldn’t read too much into this decision thinking it’s a guarantee James will remain with the Cavaliers after this summer’s enticing offseason in which several big-name free agents will be pursued by teams wanting their respective services.
Bill Russell, Dr. J and Patrick Ewing also wore No. 6, and at least James admits he’s not nor will be the best to ever don the No. 23, as there is no other like him. Even Jordan himself switched to No. 45 during his comeback and probably even didn’t feel he was the same man before getting his old number back.
Others will certainly follow the lead of Jordan (23 to 45), Kobe Bryant (8 to 24 in order to fix his image after legal issues) and now James, but the league has strict rules about its jerseys such as having to wear the same number for at least four seasons with the same team. It’s amazing the NBA brass thinks of stuff like this.
After all, it is in fact just a number.
Cleveland’s big men Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shaquille O’Neal were clones of one another in a 99-89 win at home against the Nets on Dec. 15, scoring 16 points along with five rebounds, three blocks and one steal. One problem is the fact neither one will be in uniform for tonight’s game.
James had 23 points, seven assists and six rebounds in 40 minutes of action. Mo Williams finished with 13 points, six assists and a season-high tying eight rebounds, as Cleveland shot a season-high 58 percent.
Anderson Varejao and O’Neal combined for 27 points and 21 rebounds in a 94-86 win on Jan. 2 in Newark. James had 28 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and Williams added 18 points. Jawad Williams scored a career-high 17 points, and Varejao had 15 points and nine rebounds in a 104-97 win Feb. 9 in Cleveland.
James had a double-double of 32 points and 11 assists, and Daniel Gibson added 11 points.
West is averaging 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in his last six games, including three assists and three rebounds to go along with his 15 points against the Knicks, his second straight 15-point game. West didn’t play in the teams’ first meeting in December due to a coach’s decision.
NEW JERSEY NETS
Brook Lopez had a double-double of 22 points and 15 rebounds in the December loss, and Devin Harris also had 22 points, and Rafer Alston added 20 points, but the trio was the only offense New Jersey could muster in the 10-point loss.
Devin Harris repeated his 22-point effort in the January defeat to go along with six assists and five rebounds, while Lopez had 20 points and seven boards. Chris Douglas-Roberts finished with 16 points, Yi Jianlian had 11 points and eight rebounds while Courtney Lee added nine points and six boards. The Nets were out-rebounded 52-38 and out-scored 52-32 in the paint.
Lee came to the forefront with 24 points and seven rebounds, and Lopez had 23 points and 14 boards, but it wasn’t enough to stave off a hot Cleveland team from winning its 12 straight game. Jarvis Hayes finished with 19 points, while Jianlian matched his 11 point-eight rebound performance of the previous month and Keyon Dooling added 11 points, giving all five starters double-figure outputs.
Lopez, who is turning into one of the better big men in the NBA, is averaging almost 22 points and 12 rebounds per game against the Cavaliers this season and looks to take advantage of a team without a true center, as Cleveland is without the services of O’Neal, who is out at least two months after thumb surgery.
It seems to almost change on a daily basis, but rest assured unless a disastrous streak of losing besets the Cavaliers, they will play either the Miami Heat or the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round of the playoffs. Miami now belongs in the eighth spot Charlotte held just two days ago, and it would definitely be an intriguing matchup with Dwayne Wade and company against James and the Cavs in the first round. Cleveland is 3-0 against the Heat this year, including 92-91 on Jan. 25 at the American Airlines Arena.
By: Tyler Clifton
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