Cleveland, OH, United States (4E Sports) – Retired basketball superstar Michael Jordan said “he’s cool” with LeBron James’ decision to return to No. 23 in his second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I’m cool with it,” Jordan said in a text message to ESPN.com. “I don’t own a number.”
Jordan, now the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, wore No. 23 during his legendary playing career. James idolized Jordan growing up and wore No. 23 during his first seven seasons with the Cavaliers.
However, James switched to No. 6 after leaving Cleveland and joining the Miami Heat four years ago, saying it was as a tribute to Jordan. He announced he would change numbers in November of 2009, his last season in Cleveland.
“I just think what Michael Jordan has done for the game has to be recognized some way soon,” James, who had worn No. 23 since his sophomore year in high school, said at the time.
“There would be no LeBron James, no Kobe Bryant, no Dwyane Wade if there wasn’t Michael Jordan first,” he added.
James did not contact Jordan before deciding to return to No 23. James announced his number choice on his Instagram account Sunday, also sharing the link on his Twitter account.
Meanwhile, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah believes they can beat James and the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers next season.
“Every time LeBron steps onto the court he’s affecting the game,” Noah said. “He’s the best player in the game, but that being said, I think we have a chance to beat them. And that’s the goal.”
“We want to beat LeBron James, we want to beat the Miami Heat, we want to beat all those teams who are in our way. He’s obviously one of the big obstacles,” he added.
Noah is excited about the roster moves his team has made over the past few weeks and is confident they can overcome James and other obstacles.
“It’s not about him. It’s about us,” Noah said. “It’s about our team and being the best team that we can be, then time will tell.”
The Bulls acquired Pau Gasol, European star Nikola Mirotic and rookie Doug McDermott in the offseason. They also have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love.