Johnson on board with retiring No. 23

Updated: November 18, 2009, 9:42 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Magic Johnson would go along with LeBron James' plan to have NBA players stop wearing No. 23.

Magic Johnson

Johnson

James said last week he would change jersey numbers next season in honor of Michael Jordan, and said no other players should wear it, either.

Critics of his plan said other players before Jordan deserved the honor at least as much, with some using Johnson and Larry Bird as examples. But Johnson praised James for showing respect to those before him, and said he and Bird would be supportive.

"We care about the game," Johnson said Wednesday. "We care about what's important and so if everybody votes in terms of nobody should wear 23, we're going to be the first ones to say it should happen."

A leaguewide retirement is unlikely, since the NBA leaves the decisions on retiring numbers to the teams. But if there was to be a change in policy, Johnson seems to agree with James that Jordan would be worthy of the honor.

"I think we all know how the game was and how it meant and who's made a difference in the game and Michael has definitely made a big difference in the game," Johnson said. "Larry and I started it off and then just like Dr. J and those guys passed it on to us, the baton, and we passed it to Michael and he took the game to a whole other level. So we're all in favor of that if that's what everybody wants to do."

Johnson also praised Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for coming forward with news that he has leukemia, saying his former Lakers teammate would help in the fight against cancer.

"It says a lot about his character and who he is to go out and then to come out publicly with his announcement and then willing to be the spokesperson and the face of cancer," Johnson said.

"He's going to help a lot of people. I think you'll see a lot of people starting to get their checkups, get their physicals, starting to check for it, and Kareem is a very committed guy, so once he makes a commitment he gives 150 percent and so you'll see him very involved. That's who he is. He cares like I care about people, so it's great."

Johnson spoke to a small group of reporters from his Los Angeles office via Cisco's WebEx video conferencing. He announced that he'll be using the technology in his Magic Johnson foundation's 18 community empowerment centers, allowing children to communicate with each other around the country.

The Hall of Famer said he would also use the technology in his many business ventures, allowing him to cut back on his travel.

"We're able to work faster now, more cost effective now," Johnson said. "So this has saved us a lot of man hours in terms of getting on planes and that situation where we can now see our centers and work with our centers and our directors every single day."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE