PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia 76ers' Charles Barkley confirmed last night that he would change jersey numbers for the rest of the season -- switching from 34 to 32 in honor of Magic Johnson, who wore 32.
Johnson announced last week that he had the AIDS virus and retired from the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I'm changing numbers to salute a friend," Barkley said. "It's a private thing between the two of us. I'm just doing it for the year, then I'll go back to 34. I like my number."
The only hitch to this gesture is that the Sixers' No. 32 is hanging from the Spectrum rafters. It was worn by Billy Cunningham and is one of five retired Sixers numbers.
"I called Billy, and he was very supportive. He said there was no problem with it," Barkley said. "So we're going to do it as soon as they get the jerseys done."
According to general manager Gene Shue, the organization has not yet approved the change, but that is considered a formality.
"I'm not doing this to get attention," Barkley said.