<p>LeBron James has announced he&#39;ll give up his uniform number after the season, as a way of honoring Michael Jordan. His Airness, of course, wore #23 for most of his career... except for a brief stint as #45 when he returned from his stint as a minor-league baseball player.</p><p>&#34;I just think what Michael Jordan has done for the game has to be recognized some way soon,&#34; James told reporters. &#34;There would be no LeBron James, no Kobe Bryant, no Dwyane Wade if there wasn&#39;t Michael Jordan first.&#34;</p><p>James plans to switch to number six, which is his Team USA number and his son&#39;s birthday.</p><h3>Retiring Numbers League-Wide</h3>The league-wide retirement of a uniform number isn&#39;t totally unprecedented; <a href="https://www.thoughtco.com/a-brief-illustrated-history-of-baseball-319933" data-inlink="lPQYF09TksxVpOhp7CkaqA&#61;&#61;" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="internalLink" data-ordinal="1">Major League Baseball</a> retired <a href="https://www.thoughtco.com/jackie-robinson-1779817" data-inlink="U9uZwtRfyz8n-wGLsQYr1g&#61;&#61;" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="internalLink" data-ordinal="2">Jackie Robinson&#39;s</a> #42 in 1997, honoring the 50th anniversary of Robinson&#39;s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Players who were assigned 42 at the time were allowed to keep the number; today, Mariano Rivera of the Yankees is the last &#34;grandfathered&#34; 42 in the game.<p>There has been talk of retiring #21 league-wide to honor Roberto Clemente, but nothing official has been announced as of yet.</p><p>The NHL formally retired number 99 league-wide to honor <a href="https://www.thoughtco.com/cars-posters-and-character-sheets-4122726" data-inlink="I_RSUXbu_6ST3_CGAXDp4Q&#61;&#61;" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="internalLink" data-ordinal="3">Wayne Gretzky</a>, while Mario Lemieux&#39; 66 is &#34;unofficially&#34; retired; no NHL player has worn 66 since Lemieux&#39;s retirement.</p><h3>Who Wears #23 Today?</h3>Other than James, there are 12 NBA players currently wearing number 23:<ul><li>Devin Brown - (Hornets) </li><li>Marcus Camby (Clippers) </li><li>Toney Douglas (Knicks) </li><li>Stephen Graham (Bobcats) </li><li>Wesley Matthews (Jazz) </li><li>Kevin Martin (Kings) </li><li>Jodie Meeks (Bucks) </li><li> B.J. Mullens (Thunder) </li><li>Jason Richardson (Suns) </li><li> C.J. Watson (Warriors) </li><li>Martell Webster (Trail Blazers) </li><li>Lou Williams (76ers) </li></ul>NBA rules require players wishing to change numbers to notify the league by March.<h3>A Question of Motivation</h3>It&#39;s somewhat difficult not to question the motivation for James&#39; grand gesture, coming just days after he announced he won&#39;t take any further questions about his pending free agency. The Jordan talk makes for a very effective change-of-topic.<p>Then, there&#39;s the Nike factor. James&#39; 23 is a big part of his &#34;brand&#34; -- the number is a big part of the logo used on his sneaker line. Changing numbers could mean a big marketing push -- which could mean big dollars for the company tied so closely to both James and Jordan.</p><h3>Kobe&#39;s Number Change</h3>The last high-profile NBA player to change uniform numbers was Kobe Bryant, who switched from #8 to #24 for the 2006-07 season.