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The NBA had to stop selling LeBron James jerseys because he hasn’t officially signed with the Lakers yet

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The NBA was ready to cash in on the enthusiasm of LeBron James and Lakers fans alike, but they slightly jumped the gun.

Narrator: It was not official.
Via NBA store email

Fans of the Los Angeles Lakers were (understandably) incredibly hyped last week when LeBron James announced he would join the team in free agency, leaving plenty of purple and gold faithful chomping at the bit to buy some of his jerseys. However, it seems the NBA jumped the gun in beginning to sell them.

Given that the Lakers had not yet officially announced that James had signed with the team despite announcing a few other signings yesterday, it seemed strange to get an email from the NBA store advertising that fans could go to a link and buy their LeBron James Lakers gear, but that’s exactly what happened early Friday morning:

Via NBA store email
Image via NBA store

Well, it turns out that was a mistake on the league’s end, because as Darren Rovell of ESPN, the NBA had to admit that they acted slightly prematurely:

A bunch of fans walked away with the very first LeBron James No. 23 Los Angeles Lakers jerseys on Friday afternoon, after employees in the NBA Store in Manhattan mistakenly put them out for what sources say was for less than an hour.

When it was communicated that James had yet to sign his contract, the jerseys were pulled from the racks -- but not before some fans purchased them.

”Due to tremendous fan interest, the LeBron James Lakers jerseys were prepared to be put on sale at the NBA Store upon an announcement by the team,” an NBA spokesperson said, in a statement. “Mistakenly, they were placed on shelves prematurely.”

This is hilarious, and all in good fun for now. LeBron James’ agency wouldn’t have not only publicly announced he was coming, but how much money he would be making, if this was at all in doubt. James is on vacation overseas right now, and likely simply hasn’t signed his official contract just yet. Once he does, this stuff will go back up on racks and online, but until then, fans are just going to have to be more patient than the league was.

You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.