The Los Angeles Lakers made perhaps the biggest free agent splash of this decade by not only signing LeBron James, but getting him to commit to the franchise on a four-year contract. James’ $153 million deal includes an opt out after the third year.
James leaves the Cleveland Cavaliers via free agency for a second time in his career, but he does so now without changing jersey numbers. Initially, many were curious as to what number James would wear for one main reason.
When he left the Cavs for the Miami Heat in 2010, James changed to jersey No. 6. Some felt he may do that again so that No. 23 will forever remain symbolic of his time with the Cavaliers.
However, James truly proved his loyalty to the Lakers franchise by speaking with the last person to wear the number, Cedric Ceballos.
James called Ceballos and asked permission to take his jersey number, and the response was wildly positive from Ceballos, which he made public through a post on Instagram:
While not an all-time great, Ceballos played an essential role for the Lakers from 1994-97.
He managed to keep the them in the playoffs and relevant in the off years between Showtime and the Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant years.
Ceballos is obviously not one of the first few people one thinks about when thinking about the history of the Lakers. However, this act by James shows that he is ready to commit to this franchise and to win the respect of all of its fans.
This is a great start, but the true respect towards James will come if he can deliver a title to Los Angeles in his time with the Lakers.