After the Los Angeles Lakers posted a photo of LeBron James wearing a Penguins jersey on Wednesday night, it immediately started circulating around the team's group text - and some of them didn't quite believe what they were seeing at first.
"Some guys thought it was Photoshopped," John Marino said with a grin. "That was pretty cool to see."
Especially for the Penguins defenseman, as his No. 6 was visible on the sleeves of the sweater that the NBA superstar was rocking.
"Everyone figured it was Johnny Marino's jersey that he was wearing. I think Johnny was pretty proud of himself for that," Teddy Blueger said with a laugh.
"He was pretty excited," Sam Lafferty agreed. "He's trying to do a jersey swap, I heard. We'll see how that goes."
Marino said a couple people outside of the group chat texted him after the photo made the rounds on social media, and said that he tried playing it off as though the jersey really was his, but they didn't buy it.
Turns out they were right, as the jersey was actually personalized with James' name and number, which is also 6. The Penguins went to the team store and got the biggest size they could find, and it still ended up being a tight fit on James, who measures 6-foot-9 and 250 pounds. That didn't surprise Marino, who was one of the Penguins players that attended the Lakers-Pelicans game at Staples Center during their California trip in February 2020 and watched LeBron in person.
"Just to see those guys up close - we saw them at the hotel in D.C. too - and to see how big those guys are is incredible," Marino marveled.
And while it wasn't a Mario Lemieux jersey, as many people guessed, the Lakers did pay homage to No. 66 with their clever caption, "LeMagnifique" - a combination of LeBron's first name and Lemieux's nickname.
The two of them are now colleagues, in a sense, as James joined the Fenway Sports Group as a partner back in March - and in November, the company entered into an agreement to acquire controlling interest in the Penguins. As part of the transaction, Lemieux and Ron Burkle will remain part of the ownership group and will be closely aligned with FSG.
Lemieux is one of the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T.) to ever play the sport of hockey, and Blueger feels that James has earned that same title in the sport of basketball.
"He's one of the best players in the sport and has been for so long. There's a lot of respect and appreciation to be able to watch him when I do tune in," Blueger said of the 36-year-old athlete and activist, with his long list of accomplishments including four NBA championships and four MVP awards.
"He's getting up there in age, and he's still doing it. Definitely very impressive. He's for sure one of the greatest of all time."