Regardless of how much longer LeBron James spends with the Lakers or how his remaining time with the team plays out, the franchise intends to eventually retire his number, team owner Jeanie Buss tells Mark Medina of SportsKeeda.
“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 said. “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.”
As Medina observes, James wore a No. 23 jersey during his first three years with the Lakers and will switch back to No. 23 in 2023/24 after wearing No. 6 for the last two seasons. Buss wasn’t prepared to say whether the Lakers would eventually retire both numbers, but stressed that the team would still retire LeBron’s jersey even if he doesn’t finish his career with the franchise.
“It would mean a lot (if LeBron retires as a Laker). But it won’t change his contributions to Lakers history,” Buss said. “… 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.”
Here’s more on the Lakers:
- In her full interview with Medina, Buss addressed a wide range of Lakers-related topics, including her thoughts on the team’s finish in 2022/23, Rob Pelinka‘s performance, and much more. Regarding Pelinka, Buss explained why she stood by the club’s head of basketball operations when he was facing criticism for the acquisition of Russell Westbrook: “I always felt then and now that Rob was the right person to be in charge of our front office. I continued to do so. Every decision that is made isn’t always the perfect one. But it’s the decision you make after that that counts. We had a roster that didn’t work and wasn’t working. But you can’t change things overnight in the NBA. But you can set yourself up by making the next right decision. That’s exactly what Rob did. … Every decision, you have the opportunity to make the next right decision. That’s what Rob has proven.”
- Asked about a possible contract extension for Anthony Davis, Buss declined to discuss the subject in any depth. However, in deferring to Pelinka, she hinted that she’d be on board with a new deal for Davis: “Rob said it best. Our intention is that we want to keep continuity with our team. I’ll leave it at that.”
- The two-way contract that undrafted rookie Alex Fudge signed with the Lakers will cover two years rather than one, Hoops Rumors has learned. Fudge is the sixth player to sign a two-year two-way deal this offseason, as our tracker shows.