On July 8, NBA superstar free agent LeBron James announced to the world that he was switching uniforms to go play for the Miami Heat. The much-publicized declaration sent shockwaves through the sports card and memorabilia categories. James, a seven-year veteran of the Cleveland Cavaliers where he sported uniform No. 23, would now be taking his high-flying, hardcourt moves to South Beach, Florida, to team with the likes of perennial All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Not only would his zip code be changing, but his uniform number as well. He’s chosen to wear No. 6 next season for the Heat.
Of particular note for autograph seekers is the fact that James has decided to also modify his signature. Since 2003, when he embarked on his NBA career and signed up exclusively with Upper Deck Authenticated (UDA), James has always signed his first name with a looping “L” that closely resembled the start of his uniform No. 23. Now he’s tapered that with a more definable starting letter and added “#6” to each autograph.
“It just feels right. This marks a new beginning for me,” said James in an exclusive interview with Upper Deck’s Terry Melia on July 31 during his latest signing session for UDA, the sole supplier of his authentic memorabilia. “Miami represents a new chapter in my basketball career. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s gonna be fun. And I’m gonna do what I can to the best of my ability to bring home a championship to that city.”
New state, new team, new uniform number; it only makes sense that James would want to modify his inked moniker as part of the transition for UDA.
“My relationship with Upper Deck has been great,” said James. “It’s evolved over the years. My play has changed and so has Upper Deck’s as far as creating great memorabilia that fans love. I’m happy that I’m able to still be one of the spokesmen for this company.
“I look at it as a partnership and not just an endorsement deal. The fact that I’m able to continue to do what I do out on the court and they’re able continue to do what they do as far as getting things out to the fans who love me and love the game, I think that’s great.”
The first two of many new LeBron-signed products from UDA went on sale this week 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.
“LeBron’s signature has always been in demand and now that he’s chosen to change it, UDA has the opportunity to completely overhaul LeBron’s memorabilia lineup – from team to number to design,” said Steve Sloan, UDA Product Manager. “We are excited about all the possibilities this brings to the table for our Product Development team.”
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