When LeBron James announced his decision to play for the Miami Heat, which changed the culture of the NBA, James left his hometown in Cleveland to join the Heat so he can win a title. And he did just that; he would go on to win two titles with the Heat.
As a member of the Heat, James decided to change his number from 23 to 6, and there was a good reason for that. The reason involved NBA great Michael Jordan.
The Miami Heat retired Michael Jordan’s number
Even though he never played for the Heat, Pat Riley still wanted to honor Jordan in a special way. In Jordan’s final game in Miami in 2003, the Heat took a moment to pay respect to one of the greatest players ever to play in the NBA.
Riley had a short message for Jordan. “In honor of your greatness and for all you’ve done for the game of basketball – and not just the NBA, but for all the fans around the world – we want to honor you tonight and hang your jersey, No. 23, from the rafters,” Riley said. “No one will ever wear No. 23 for the Miami Heat. You’re the best.”
During Jordan’s career, he averaged 30.1 points in 38 games against the Heat. The Heat were the only other team to retire Jordan’s number other than the Chicago Bulls. To have your number retired by a team you didn’t even play for speaks volumes to the type of player and person that Jordan was on and off the court.
Jordan will go down as one of the best players to ever play and will go down as one of the only players to have their numbers retired by a team he did not play for. His legacy will forever be remembered in the game of basketball.
The reason why James switched his number in Miami
When James came to Miami, the team instantly became a championship-contending team. James teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for the big three in South Beach. Instead of wearing his normal No.23, James decided to pay respect to one of his basketball idols.
“I just think that what Michael Jordan has done for the game has to be recognized in some way soon,” James said. “There would be no LeBron James, no Kobe Bryant, no Dwyane Wade if there wasn’t Michael Jordan first.” Jordan paved the way for many players in the league. After his time in Miami, James went back to wearing No. 23 when he went back to Cleveland and then with the Lakers.
Sometimes it’s more than just a game, and honoring a player who did so much for the league is something that will never go unnoticed. The Heat organization did not have to retire Jordan’s jersey, but they wanted to make sure his legacy would always be remembered.
What Michael Jordan means to basketball
When you think of Michael Jordan, he’s a person who’s mentioned in a lot of people’s all-time list of NBA greats. Not only was he well-known in the United States, but he was also recognized around the world.
From winning championships to winning numerous awards, Jordan’s legacy will continue to live on across the game of basketball.