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Why Mario — not LeBron — should wear No. 6 next year for the Miami Heat



Like many of you, I watched the LeBron James announcement on ESPN — if that’s what they’re still calling it these days — on Thursday night.

Like many of you, I didn’t want to. But I did. And, after absorbing the circus that unfolded on live television, I came to terms with the fact that LeBron was headed to Miami to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Not that it was that difficult. I’m not a LeBron fan, I don’t root for the Heat and I’m not from Cleveland.

What happened last night did nothing to change the team I grew up rooting for, the Denver Nuggets.

But it did change life for one guy we all know — Mario Chalmers. It’s been widely publicized already that, in Miami, Mario wears the jersey number that LeBron wants. When asked about the coveted No. 6 during his television “special” Thursday night, LeBron said he’d have to call Mario up and work something out.

According to NBAstore.com, that phone call already has taken place. As you can see, the name that now appears on the back of the Miami Heat’s No. 6 jersey is James, not Chalmers. That didn’t take long.

I’m sure Mario’s fine with the change and I’m even more certain that LeBron or Pat Riley or David Stern made Mario’s willingness to give up the number worth his while.

But I couldn’t help but think that asking Mario to give up the number was unfair. I’m not saying Mario had a special bond with the number. We all know he wore No. 15 at KU and probably would have continued to do so had it been available when he arrived in Miami. So swapping probably was no problem for him. But let’s be serious here, why does LeBron deserve the number more than Mario?

Mario already has spent two years in Miami, has done more for the Heat than LeBron has — so far — and has been nothing but a pleasant surprise for the franchise that took a chance on him in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft. I realize he hasn’t won an MVP award but it’s not as if he’s done nothing. In fact, I’d be willing to say — out loud even — that Mario’s biggest shot, which needs no explanation, is, to this point, far bigger than any shot LeBron has taken or made. In fact, I’m saying it’s not even close.

During the past decade or so, LeBron has hit dozens of game-winners, thrown down countless nasty dunks and made some acrobatic shots that seemed darn near impossible to make. Big deal. Did any of them ever deliver a ring?

Mario’s biggest shot did. And even though that ring may have come in the NCAA Tournament, there are plenty of players in the NBA who would happily trade a few million dollars of their net worth to say they own what Mario has. Many of them have gone on record as saying so.

So there you have it. LeBron’s the better player, the better scorer, the better passer, the better global icon, the better egomaniac, the better marketing dream, the better NBA golden boy. But even on his best day, he hasn’t hit a shot as important as the one Mario hit against Memphis in 2008.

I know Mario’s Miracle didn’t come with the Heat, but until LeBron trumps it, I say it’s Mario who should be wearing No. 6 in Miami. LeBron should pick another number.

On second thought, maybe not. I’d hate to see that decision wind up as over-the-top and drawn-out as the last one.


Will Babbit 7 years, 10 months ago

According to NBA.com, Mario got #15, so I doubt he's too upset either. And realistically, most NBA players could care less about NCAA championships...especially players that didn't even play in college...

Matt Tait 7 years, 10 months ago

You're definitely right... most don't. But a lot more than you think do.

esj2003 7 years, 10 months ago

Lebron trumped Mario's Miracle when he won gold in Beijing. Lebron's wallet also trumps Mario's. If Lebron wants to buy it, then buy it.

Matt Tait 7 years, 10 months ago

Well said. Although that team would've won gold with or without LeBron and many said that Carmelo and D-Wade were the best players on that team.

Royals 7 years, 10 months ago

Why didn't he want to keep wearing #23 anyway?

domino 7 years, 10 months ago

I'm debating whether or not to buy the new limited edition Lebron James phone that Apple is going to put out. Only problem is that it only vibrates - it doesn't have a ring.

Jaylee 7 years, 10 months ago

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhh hahahaha

2002 7 years, 10 months ago

What do you expect, the biggest egotistical jerk in the NBA wants the number. Give it up Mario. Maybe LeBron could host an hour long special to settle the deal: it could start with LeBron ripping Mario's jersey off of him while he screams "that's my number now, scrub." Then, LeBron could look at Mario's sad eyes and apologize; then follow that up with a fan vote on what number LeBron should choose for Mario. This is where it could get good, there could be two endings. One would be Mario thanking LeBron saying: "thank you SIR, for letting me have this number. In the alternate ending, Mario could complain that he doesn't think it is fair and it could end with Mario being traded to the Clippers.

devilsrighthandman 7 years, 10 months ago

What some people fail to understand is that branding and sales are where a lot of athletes make their money. The number they wear ties into that. LeBron had to purchase that brand from Mario.

d_prowess 7 years, 10 months ago

I agree about the branding, but in this situation, LeBron isn't getting his old number. It is a brand new number for him. He has always worn 23 in the NBA, but has said in the past he wants to change because he believes the whole league should retire the number 23 to honor Jordan.

Jaylee 7 years, 10 months ago

"...the whole league should retire the number 23 to honor Jordan"

... which I fully agree with.

Jonathan Kealing 7 years, 10 months ago

It's pretty typical for players to compensate other players if they have a jersey number that someone else wants. Happens in most professional sports every season, so I'd be shocked if Mario wasn't compensated.

HW 7 years, 10 months ago

Amen JK. Hopefully Mario milked him for every penny he could possibly get out of him.

John Sheppard 7 years, 10 months ago


KANSTUCKY 7 years, 10 months ago

I bet they don't even wear the same size.... just think of the cost of the new jersey. What a waste.

John_Tesh 7 years, 10 months ago

Mario was probably charming and happy to give it to him!

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