Second-year Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal has worn #3 since entering the NBA — a departure from his formative years of youth ball, high school and college, when he wore #23. When he was drafted by the Wizards, he promised to ditch #23, because some guy named Michael Jordan had worn it for a few seasons in D.C. So, naturally, you’d think that Beal wore #23 originally in honor of His Airness. Well, you would be wrong.
Just like Barry Petchesky over at Deadspin, I’m 29 (turning 30 in April, but I will accept gifts at any time), which means we’re just old enough to assume that anyone wearing #23 did so because of Jordan. Alas, we forget that a current 20-year-old NBA sophomore was probably about ten years old when LeBron James entered the NBA — the player Beal idolized and thus inspired him to wear #23. In fact, at that age, Beal probably barely remembers Jordan playing for the Wizards, probably doesn’t remember him playing for the Chicago Bulls at all, and was a zygote at the end of Jordan’s first three-peat.
So, in a sense, LeBron replaced Jordan long ago, but really, only in a way that proves that we’re all getting old. As for on-court achievements, we’ve still got a long way to go.