December 1, 2023

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Charlotte Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball is changing his uniform number from No. 1 to No. 2 for next season, according to Shams Charania. Neither Charania nor Ball himself has offered an explanation about the decision to change numbers. Ball has worn No. 1 throughout his career, including in high school at Chino Hills and SPIRE Academy as well as abroad for the Illawarra Hawks.

Notably, No. 2 is the number worn by LaMelo’s brother, Lonzo Ball, who has donned it at UCLA and with the Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans and now the Chicago Bulls. That is the simplest explanation for Ball’s decision to make this swap. Typically, when a player changes numbers, they do so for one of a few standard reasons.

Their team might have acquired a higher profile player who wants to wear the number, but Ball is Charlotte’s franchise player, so it would be unlikely he would give it up for a teammate. They occasionally do it to reflect some sort of change in internal circumstances after a transitional period in their careers, but Ball has played just two seasons. Aside from his brother, there is no apparent explanation for Ball’s choice.

Ball made his first All-Star Game last season, but for the second consecutive season the Hornets were knocked out in the play-in tournament before they could reach the playoffs. The Hornets are hoping the still-developing Ball in his new number and returning head coach Steve Clifford can help get Charlotte over the top.

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