Retiring a jersey number may not be every NBA player’s goal. But it surely is the recognition when a team decides to do so.
In case you’re wondering, retiring a jersey number is a team’s way of honouring the efforts and contributions of the player to the team. This is usually a player who played at hall-of-fame levels.
It is more than about the NBA player’s technical prowess, however. Raising the jersey to the rafter or affixing it to the walls is also about influence.
Case in point: There was a clamour to retire Kobe Bryant’s jersey numbers as an emblem of his storied career. NBA players call to retire the jerseys to pay their respects to the late legend following his untimely death.
While at it, here are interesting to know about retired NBA jerseys.
- Wilt Chamberlain has the most retired jerseys: Philadelphia Warriors (13), Los Angeles Lakers (13) and Philadelphia 76ers (13).
- There are currently 208 jerseys retired by teams.
- Los Angeles Clippers and Toronto Raptors have not retired any jerseys yet.
- Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings have retired their #6 for the fans, specifically the 1986-87 Kings fans.
- Memphis Grizzlies will be retiring Tony Allen’s #9 and Zach Randolph’s #50 soon.
Jersey numbers deserving of retirement
Tracy McGrady and Ray Allen are two players who are much worthy of an NBA jersey number retirement. Hope floats still, considering that Tony Parker has recently seen his No. 9 jersey raised to the rafters.
For the active players, these are the players who must have their jersey numbers retired someday.
LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers, #23 and Miami Heat, #6)
No other player deserves a jersey retirement than King James. James gave the Cavs its first championship title after 52 years in 2016. He also delivered a back to back championship with the Heat in 2012 and 2013.
James Harden (Houston Rockets, #13)
Before Harden went on to play for the Rockets, he’s already known for his scoring abilities. He is the transcendent player that the team was looking for nevertheless. He won’t be the NBA’s MVP in 2018 for nothing.
Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder, #0)
Westbrook’s time with the Thunder is one for the books. Playing along Kevin Durant and Harden, he earned All-Star and All-NBA appearances as well as an MVP honour. Westbrook is not just an MVP, but also the league’s leading scorer in 2014-15 and 2016-17.
Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers, #0)
From his rookie season in 2013, Lillard remains to be one of the most underrated NBA players to date. But he always performs as expected. He won Rookie of the Year in 2012. Today, he is only one in two Blazers who appeared in an All-Star Game for five times.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks, #34)
Antetokounmpo’s last six seasons were fantastic, to say the least. He is now considered as James’ apparent heir as the new face of the NBA. In 2016-17, he was one of the Bucks players to be included in five major statistical categories. He was actually the first to finish at the top 20 in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.
Kawhi Leonard (Toronto Raptors, #2)
What Leonard did with the Raptors is truly game-changing, well at least for teams and its fan base. He helped the Raptors win its first NBA championship in 2018-19 where he also earned his second Finals MVP.
Hamptons 5 (Golden State Warriors, #s30, 11, 35, 9, and 23)
The Hamptons 5 is composed of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green. They are the reasons for the Warriors’ golden era. They epitomised “Strength in Numbers.”