Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Best Basketball Players By Uniform Number

Part 3 of a series. Remember, it's a player's NBA number that matters. Some guys wore more than one number.

As with NFL officials and their excuse about eligible receivers, basketball players traditionally don't wear numbers beginning or ending in 6, 7, 8 or 9 because referees need to be able to use hand signals to say who committed a foul, and there's only 5 fingers on a hand. So, while this was never written into the rules, the number of players wearing numbers in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s was tiny until recent years.

0 Gilbert Arenas

00 Robert Parish

1 Oscar Robertson. Wore it with the Bucks, after wearing 14 with the Cincinnati Royals. Ahead of Nate "Tiny" Archibald (who wore it longer than 7 or 10), Tracy McGready and Chauncey Billups.

2 Moses Malone. Wore it with the 76ers, but wore 24 with most other teams.

3 Dwayne Wade. Ahead of Allen Iverson.

03 Frank "Pep" Saul. In the 1950s, including in their 1951 NBA Championship season, the Rochester Royals (the team now known as the Sacramento Kings) experimented with 2-digit uniform numbers starting with zero. Saul also wore 10, 18 and 33 in the NBA.

4 Dolph Schayes. Joe Dumars was a very good player, but his achievements as an executive don't help him here.

5 Bill Walton. Wore it with the Celtics, after wearing 32 everywhere else (Kevin McHale had it), and won a title, putting him ahead of Jason Kidd.

6 Bill Russell. No, LeBron James doesn't get to wear it. Not just because he's won 9 fewer titles, but because Russell was a better player. LeBron doesn't even get in line ahead of Julius "Dr. J" Erving, who wore it with the 76ers.

7 Pete Maravich. Wore it with the Jazz, after wearing 19 and 44 with the Hawks.

07 Paul Noel. Another '51 Royal.

8 Kobe Bryant. Wore it longer than he's worn 24, and won more titles with it.

9 Bob Pettit

09 Bobby Wanzer. Another '51 Royal.

10 Walt "Clyde" Frazier

11 Isiah Thomas

12 John Stockton

13 Wilt Chamberlain

14 Bob Cousy

15 Earl "the Pearl" Monroe. Wore it with the Knicks, after wearing 10 with the Bullets. Ahead of Hal Greer. And don't even think about putting Vince Carter here.

16 Bob Lanier

17 John Havlicek

18 Dave Cowens

19 Willis Reed

20 Gary Payton. Ahead of Maurice Lucas.

21 Tim Duncan. He has surpassed Bill Sharman.

22 Dave DeBusschere. No, not Elgin Baylor. The Lakers didn't win a title until he retired. Nor Clyde "the Glide" Drexler.

23 Michael Jordan. No, LeBron doesn't get this number, either.

24 Rick Barry. Ahead of Sam Jones and Bill Bradley.

25 Gus Johnson. No, not the broadcaster. Playing for the Bullets in the Sixties, this one was one of the first great dunkers. Ahead of K.C. Jones.

26 Buddy Jeannette. Player-coach of the 1948 NBA Champion Baltimore Bullets, who went out of business in 1954 and have no tangible connection to the team that played under the name from 1963 to 1973 and is now known as the Washington Wizards.

27 Jack Twyman

28 Wayne Embry

29 Paul Silas. Wore it with the Hawks and Suns. Better known for wearing 35 with the Celtics and SuperSonics.

30 George McGinnis

31 Reggie Miller

32 Earvin "Magic" Johnson. Shaquille O'Neal wore it with Orlando, but he's not ahead of this Magic. Nor is Dr. J, who wore it with the Nets.

33 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Ahead of Larry Bird.

34 Hakeem Olajuwon. Shaq wore it with L.A., but he's not ahead of Hakeem. Nor is Charles Barkley. Nor is Paul Pierce.

35 Reggie Lewis

36 Lloyd Neal

37 Derek Fisher. Wore it with the '12 Thunder.

38 Kwame Brown. Wore it with the '08 and '09 Pistons.

39 Greg Ostertag. Better known for wearing 00, wore it in his return to the Jazz in 2000 and '01.

40 Bill Laimbeer

41 Dirk Nowitzki. Has surpassed Wes Unseld.

42 James Worthy

43 Brad Daugherty

44 Jerry West. No, Celtic fans, you can't count Danny Ainge's achievements as an executive, because, if you did, you'd have to count West's, too.

45 A.C. Green. Rudy Tomjanovich was a very good player, but his coaching achievements don't count here.

46 Bo Outlaw. Wore it with the '05 Suns.

47 Andrei Kirilenko. His number, his initials and his nationality got him nicknamed "AK-47."

48 Nazr Mohammed. Currently wearing it with the Bulls.

49 Shandon Anderson

50 David Robinson

51 Michael Doleac

52 Buck Williams

53 Darryl Dawkins

54 Horace Grant

55 Dikembe Mutombo

56 Brandon Hunter. Wore it with the '04 Celtics.

57 Hilton Armstrong. Wore it with last year's Warriors.

58 Never worn

59 Never worn

60 Walt Kirk. Wore it with the 1949 Indianapolis Jets.

61 Bevo Nordmann. Wore it with the '62 Royals.

62 Bob Dille. Wore it in the NBA's 1st season, with the 1946-47 Detroit Falcons. Scot Pollard. Wore it with the 2004-06 Pacers.

63 Never worn

64 Never worn

65 George Ratkovicz. Wore it with the 1950 Syracuse Nationals.

66 Scot Pollard. Wore it with the 2008 NBA Champion Celtics. Also the only player besides Dille to wear 62 in a regular-season game.

67 Moe Becker. Another '47 Falcon.

68 Milt Schoon. Another '47 Falcon.

69 Never worn

70 Chuck Share. Wore it on the 1958 NBA Champion St. Louis Hawks.

71 Willie Naulls. Wore it with the 1963 San Francisco Warriors.

72 Jason Kapono. Wore it with the '10 and '11 76ers.

73 Dennis Rodman. He is the only player to wear the number, doing so briefly at the end of his career, with the '99 Lakers. Better-known for wearing 10 with the Pistons and 91 with the Bulls.

74 Never worn

75 Never worn

76 Shawn Bradley. Wore it because he was 7-foot-6. That he also played for the 76ers was probably the most interesting this about this incredibly pedestrian player. Manute Bol, who was also 7-foot-6, wore 10 and 11.

77 Gheorghe Muresan. Wore it with the Bullets and Nets because he was 7-foot-7, making him the tallest player in NBA history.

78 Never worn. Probably won't be, until some freak comes in at 7-foot-8, and then would only wear it if his team's owner had a sense of humor.

79 Never worn

80 Never worn

81 Never worn

82 Never worn

83 Craig Smith. Wore it with the '12 Trail Blazers.

84 Chris Webber. Wore it with the '07 Pistons, after usually wearing 4.

85 Baron Davis. Wore it with the '11 Cavaliers and the '12 Knicks. Usually wore 1.

86 Chris Johnson. Wore it with the '11 Celtics. Has usually worn 20.

87 Never worn

88 Antoine Walker. Wore it in his '05 return to the Celtics, after usually wearing 8.

89 Clyde Lovellette. Wore it with the '54 Minneapolis Lakers. Usually wore 4 or 34.

90 Drew Gooden. Now with the Wizards, and in his 11th season as the only player ever to wear the number,

91 Ron Artest/Metta World Peace. Wore it with the '05 Pacers. Rodman was better while wearing it, but he's also the only player ever to wear another number in an NBA game.

92 DeShawn Stevenson. Wore it with the 2011 NBA Champion Mavericks.

93 P.J. Brown. Wore it with the 2008 NBA Champion Celtics. Metta World Peace was better while wearing it, but he's also the best at another number.

94 Evan Fournier. Wore it with the '13 and '14 Nuggets.

95 Never worn

96 Don Ray. Wore it with the 1950 Tri-Cities Blackhawks, the team that became the Milwaukee Hawks in 1951, the St. Louis Hawks in 1955, and the Atlanta Hawks in 1958. Metta World Peace was better while wearing it, but he's also the best at another number.

97 Never worn

98 Jason Collins. The NBA's 1st openly gay player wore it with the '13 Celtics and Wizards and the '14 Nets, in memory of Matthew Shepard, murdered for being gay in 1998. Also worn by a '47 Falcon, Chet Abuchon.

99 George Mikan

No NBA player has ever worn a triple-digit number.

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