Less than three months ago, NBA superstar free agent LeBron James revealed to the world that he was switching teams to go play for the Miami Heat. The seven-year veteran of the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he religiously wore No. 23, would now be taking his jaw-dropping moves on the hardcourt to South Beach, Florida, to team with perennial All-Stars Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Not only would his zip code be changing, but his uniform number as well. This evening, for the first time ever, LeBron gets to show off his new uniform No. 6 in action when the Heat hosts the Detroit Pistons in preseason battle.
“Michael Jordan will be always be remembered as number 23. With MJ going into the Hall of Fame, it only seemed appropriate to retire number 23,” James said in an exclusive interview with Upper Deck’s Terry Melia. “I wore number 6 in the 2008 Beijing Olympics when Team USA was able to bring home the gold, so it carries some greatness already. Making the switch also marks a new beginning and a new start for me in Miami.”
LeBron’s well-publicized announcement in July sent shock waves through the sports memorabilia industry. Of particular note for autograph seekers is the fact that he decided to modify his signature style. Since 2003, when he began his NBA career and signed up exclusively with Upper Deck Authenticated (UDA), James has always autographed his first name with a looping “L” that closely resembled the start of his uniform No. 23. He’s now tapered that with a more definable starting letter and added “#6” to each autograph.
“It just feels right,” said James during his latest signing session for UDA, the sole supplier of his authentic memorabilia. “Miami represents a new chapter for me. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun. I hope that my game will translate to the fans being excited about the game of basketball once again. And I’m going to do what I can to bring home a championship to that city.”
The first four newly signed LeBron James products from UDA are currently on sale at www.upperdeckstore.com. An autographed Spalding basketball, limited to 100 with a specially stamped Miami Heat logo on one of its panels, retails for $899.99, while an autographed 16” X 20” “Welcome to Miami” photo showing LeBron wearing his new No. 6 Heat home uniform sells for $699.99. In addition, a signed 36” x 18” “Witness Miami” photo of LeBron, limited to 100, sells for $749.99, while an open edition Spalding basketball signed by James retails for $799.99.