Buss: Lakers will retire LeBron’s jersey

Buss: Lakers will retire LeBron's jersey

Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss is certain that LeBron James‘ jersey will eventually hang from the arena rafters.

“The standard for having your jersey retired as a Laker is when a player is inducted into the Hall of Fame. I have absolutely no doubt that LeBron will make it into the Basketball Hall of Fame,” Buss told Sportskeeda’s Mark Medina.

“When he does so, then we will retire his jersey. Knowing that he will make it into the Basketball Hall of Fame, he will have his Lakers jersey retired, no doubt about it.”

Since joining the franchise in 2018, James has claimed an NBA championship – his fourth and the team’s 17th – and eclipsed club legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar atop the league’s all-time scoring leaderboard. Despite coming off his 20th campaign, he’s shown little to no signs of slowing down, averaging 27.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, and eight assists through five seasons in L.A.

However, one conundrum the Lakers will have to solve is which number will grace James’ retired jersey. The 38-year-old wore No. 23 for his first three seasons in Hollywood before switching to No. 6 for the last two, and he’ll revert back to No. 23 this year out of respect for NBA legend Bill Russell. The Boston Celtics great, who wore No. 6 for all 13 years of his storied career, died in July 2022 at the age of 88.

Buss doesn’t feel a sense of urgency just yet on deciding which of James’ numbers will be retired.

“That’s a discussion for another time,” she said.

James confirmed at the ESPYs earlier this month that he will return for a 21st season after openly admitting he was contemplating his playing future. But whether or not the 19-time All-Star eventually hangs up his boots as a member of the Lakers, Buss stressed that his work with the franchise wouldn’t be erased if he moved elsewhere before stepping away from the game.

“It would mean a lot,” the team’s president said when asked about the significance of James potentially retiring in purple and gold. “But it won’t change his contributions to Lakers history.

“It’s great if he retires as a Laker. That’s the ultimate thing because a player like Shaquille O’Neal has meant so much to Lakers history, but he wasn’t a Laker when he retired from the NBA. But that didn’t change what his part of Lakers history was. When he retired from the NBA, we retired his Lakers jersey.”

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