I'm archiving some of the My Space blogs I wrote over the years. This one about Lebron James changing his number is one of my favorites. It was written March 7, 2010.
Cleveland Cavalier's superstar Lebron James is changing his uniform number from 23 to 6 next year. He's doing this to honor Michael Jordan. It is James' opinion that because of his contributions to the game Jordan's number should be retired and never worn by anyone again.
I'm not a huge basketball fan, so I did a quick check to see if anyone significant had ever worn the number 6, and if that player had made any significant contributions to basketball.
Ever hear of Bill Russell?
Brief bio. Bill Russell was the first black superstar in the NBA. He was the first black head coach in the NBA, and indeed in any of the major professional sports leagues. Bill Russell won 11 championships as a player in the NBA. Bill Russell won two NCAA college basketball championships with the University of San Francisco in 1955-6. Bill Russell won an Olympic gold medal in Melbourne in 1956. For those who don't care about sports and have no perspective on what that means, it simply means Bill Russell won a championship almost every single year he played, more than anyone ever. More than Magic. More than Lebron (zero). More than even Michael Jordan.
What's more Bill Russell did it in an era where racial hatred and prejudice were rampant in America. As a University of San Francisco player, it was common for Russell and his black teammates to be denied hotel rooms and were frequently refused service in restaurants. Not only in the South, but across America.
During his professional career for the Boston Celtics, a team he won 11 championships for, the people of Boston berated him mercilessly with racist slurs and his home was even broken into, vandalized, and his bed deficated in. Despite this Bill Russell continued to handle himself with dignity and integrity.
Bill Russell wore the number 6.
Lebron James, I think you're a little misguided.
You don't want to wear Michael Jordan's number because you have this crazy love and respect for what he did on a basketball court. But you're willing to wear number 6, the number of a man who paved the way, suffered the brunt of the abuse of a racist America, made it possible for players such as yourself to do what you do in the NBA?
Maybe you should turn that uniform inside out, amigo, because you got this all ass backwards.