As my Rashaan Salaam No. 31 attests, buying jerseys has never been a particularly wise investment. It’s only gotten worse as the years have gone on. Even when you buy the jersey of a bona fide star, odds are he won’t be around forever. How many Chargers fans ever thought that LaDanian Tomlinson would end up in another uniform before it was all said and done? (OK, most of them did. But you get the point).
It was bad enough having to keep your old jersey in the closet because your favorite player left town. But now we are ushering in a terrible new era where your beloved star is screwing you over while still playing for your favorite team.
On Thursday, it was confirmed that Gilbert Arenas submitted paperwork to have his number changed from 0 to 6 when he is reinstated from his suspension next season. Arenas, who was so closely associated with his number that he was nicknamed “Agent Zero,” originally picked that because it was the number of minutes he was expected to play at the University of Arizona. We can only assume that 6 was picked for its association with “six-shooter.”
However, Arenas’ move is far from an isolated incident. Just a few weeks ago, LeBron James officially signed the paperwork to change his number from 23 to 6 next season. And the whole terrible trend started a few years back when Kobe Bryant decided he was sick of being No. 8 and wanted to become 24. (Technically it started for the half-season that MJ wore 45, but that was only because his 23 was already retired by the Bulls. And I am sticking to that answer).
It is my concern that this NBA number madness will not stop until it is too late. And is there any real reason for it other than to sell a few more jerseys with your name on the back? Each guy has his own reasoning that doesn’t offer that as an explanation, but to that I refer these gentlemen to the immortal words of poet Nell Carter.