Number 27 to be Retired by New Jersey

According to espn.com, the New Jersey Devils will retire the jersey number 27 in honor of Scott Niedermayer in a game against the Dallas Stars to be played on December 16.  My first reaction upon hearing this news was..."really?"  But, taking into account the fact that he was one of only five players to be a member of all three Stanley Cup Championship teams in 1995, 2000 and 2003, and his large contribution to those teams, it makes sense.  Then, look at how long he played for New Jersey.  He came up with them as an 18 year-old in 1991-92, and would play with them through age 30 and the 2003-04 NHL season, winning the James Norris trophy in that final season with New Jersey.

I guess the surprise here, on my part, is attributable to Niedermayer signing as a free agent with the Anaheim Ducks after the lockout.  That hurt for Devils fans.  And that pain would be exacerbated when he led the Ducks to the Stanley Cup Championship in 2006-07.

But, that doesn't change the fact that he was a great NJ Devil.  Probably the best offensive-minded defensemen that the team has ever had. So....hats off to Scott on joining Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko with the honor of a retired jersey number with the New Jersey Devils.  

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Best Sports Debates - Best NBA Point Guard Ever

The best point guard ever.  It's not an easy decision.  And it's certainly a debatable one.  But, we'll attempt to make the definitive argument for the best to ever carry the rock right here on Best By the Numbers.  We'll use statistics similar to how it was done previously for a debate such as the best NFL quarterback ever.

The stats we'll use to narrow down our list of best NBA point guards will be, courtesy of basketball-reference.com:  assists, assists-per-game, total points, points-per-game, steals, and steals-per-game.

As of today, here are your top five in assists:

John Stockton
Jason Kidd
Mark Jackson
Magic Johnson
Oscar Robertson

Your top five in assists-per-game:

Magic Johnson
John Stockton
Chris Paul
Oscar Robertson
Isiah Thomas

Your top five in points scored:

Oscar Robertson
Allen Iverson
Gary Payton
John Stockton
Isiah Thomas

Your top five in points-per-game:

Allen Iverson
Oscar Robertson
World B. Free
Magic Johnson
Stephon Marbury

Your top five in three-pointers:

Jason Kidd
Chauncey Billups
Steve Nash
Tim Hardaway
Nick Van Exel

Your top five in steals:

John Stockton
Jason Kidd
Gary Payton
Maurice Cheeks
Allen Iverson

If a name appears on any of the above lists more than once, then that point guard will be included in the debate.  The point guards that qualify then, are:

John Stockton
Jason Kidd
Magic Johnson
Oscar Robertson
Isiah Thomas
Allen Iverson
Gary Payton

Pretty good group right there.  Now, let it be said that there is a bit of loose interpretation on the term "point guard" for certain NBA athletes considered.

So, now to compare the above point guards, let's look at them alphabetically by last name:

Allen Iverson
5,624 assists
6.2 assists-per-game
24,368 points
26.7 points-per-game
1,059 threes
1,983 steals

Magic Johnson
10,141 assists
11.2 assist-per-game
17,707 points
19.5 points-per-game
325 threes
1,724 steals

Jason Kidd
11,578 assists
9.1 assists-per-game
16,772 points
13.2 points-per-game
1,795 threes
2,477 steals

Gary Payton
8,966 assists
6.7 assists-per-game
21,813 points
16.3 points-per-game
1,132 threes
2,445 steals

Oscar Robertson
9,887 assists
9.5 assists-per-game
26,710 points
25.7 points-per-game
NA for threes
NA for steals

John Stockton
15,806 assists
10.5 assists-per-game
19,711 points
13.1 points-per-game
845 threes
3,265 steals

Isiah Thomas
9.061 assists
9.3 assists-per-game
18,822 points
19.2 points-per-game
398 threes
1,861 steals

We will give a point for each place in the comparative rankings of the respective categories, with ties taking the higher point total (for example if three players were tied in one category, and the player ahead of them was in the 5th position - with 5 points - and the player beneath them was in the first position - with 1 point - each of the three tied players would be awarded 4 points - the next highest total, rather than 2 points - the next lowest total). Also, we'll multiply the assists category relative point ranking by 2, since assists are, I'd say unarguably, the most relevant statistic for a point guard.  We also have to note here, that since Oscar Robertson played before steals or threes were really accounted for, we are giving him the median number of points in each category (3.5).

Understanding we're not using an exact science here, but using the logic above, here are your top 7 point guards of all-time:

John Stockton - 42 points

Oscar Robertson - 38 points
Magic Johnson - 35 points
Jason Kidd - 34 points
Isiah Thomas - 27 points
Gary Payton - 27 points
Allen Iverson - 26 points

The only real argument I can foresee someone making here is that Magic Johnson should be higher.   Maybe.  If you take into account his championships and his all-time high in assists-per-game.  He was certainly amazing to watch.

But you gotta admit, Stockton's numbers are pretty powerful, and you can certainly argue that he's the best of all-time.

So, what do you think?  Is John Stockton the best NBA point guard ever?  You tell me.

Please note that all stats are courtesy of basketball-reference.com.

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NBA Athlete Number 61 - Bevo Nordmann

61 is another number that has scarcely been worn in professional basketball.  The Cincinnati Royals must have had a deal on this jersey number from the manufacturer or something, because they are the only team to have an athlete sport this number in the NBA.

Bevo Nordmann wore number 61 for the 1961-62 season, appropriately.  In 58 games he scored 131 points and pulled down 128 boards.  He would also wear the numbers 10, 22 and 34 during his NBA career, spent with the Hawks, Knicks and Celtics in addition to the Royals.

For his career, Nordmann scored 571 points with 517 rebounds.

Did you know............that Nordmann played his college ball at St. Louis University?

sources:  basketball-reference.com, wikipedia.com

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Pro Basketball Number 60 - Walt Kirk

Would you believe that to-date, no NBA player has chosen to wear the jersey numbers 57, 58 or 59?  Well, believe it.  The next number worn by any pro basketball player, after 56, is 60.  And this number was only worn by two pro basketball athletes, on the same team, in the same year!

Walt Kirk and Dick Wehr wore number 60, both for the Indianapolis Jets in 1949.  And technically.....technically.....they didn't wear this number in the NBA.  So, I don't even know if I should be listing the number here.  But I will, because it's interesting info.  These guys both wore the number in the Basketball Association of America, the league in which the Jets played.

Kirk had 378 points in 35 games played with the Jets that season, making him the best to wear this number professionally!

Did you know........that Kirk was an All-American at the University of Illinois?

sources:  wikipedia.com, basketball-reference.com

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NBA Athlete Number 56 - Francisco Elson

Okay, here we go, back to the not-so-popular NBA jersey numbers.  Number 56 has only been worn by two NBA athletes to-date.  Of those two, only Francisco Elson wore the number for more than one season.

Elson was selected by the Nuggets with the 12th pick of the 1999 NBA draft.  He played in 62 games as a rookie, contributing 218 points.  His court time and production would increase over the next couple of seasons in Denver, seeing him score 248 and then 352 points respectively.

Playing with several NBA teams through the 2010-11 season, Elson has scored a career 1,724 points, and pulled down 1,637 rebounds.

Elson earned himself an NBA championship ring with the San Antonio Spurs in 2007, scoring 66 points and pulling down 62 boards in the playoffs that year.

Did you know...................Elson hails from the Netherlands?

sources:  wikipedia.combasketball-reference.com

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NBA Athlete Number 55 - Dikembe Mutombo

Hailing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dikembe Mutombo was drafted by the Denver Nuggets with the 4th overall pick of the 1991 NBA draft out of Georgetown University.  Although Mutombo could certainly score, his strength on the court was his defense.  As a rookie, he swatted 210 shots.

His shot blocking ability was his forte.  He would lead the NBA a hefty five times in swats.  His career shots-blocked number, 3,289, currently puts him second on the all-time NBA list.  Only Hakeem Olajuwon has more career blocks than Mutombo.

Mutombo would spend five seasons in the Mile-High city, twice scoring over 1,000 points in a season.  His next stop would be in Atlanta, where Mutombo signed as a free agent in 1996.  While with Atlanta, Mutombo garnered two Defensive Player of the Year awards, as he led the league in blocked shots twice and in rebounds three times.

A trade sent Mutombo to the Philadelphia 76ers in 2001, where he would spend a cup of coffee, before spending time in the New York Metro area with both the Nets and the Knicks.  He would subsequently establish himself with the Houston Rockets for the final five seasons of his NBA career, retiring at age 42.
  • 11,729 points
  • 3,289 blocks
  • 12,359 rebounds
  • 2.8 blocks per game
  • 10.3 rebounds per game
  • .518 field goal percentage
  • 4-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year
Did you know his given name is Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo?

sources:  basketball-reference.comwikipedia.com

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NBA Athlete Number 54 - Horace Grant

Horace Grant, in my opinion, was one of the unsung heroes of the early '90s Chicago Bulls championship teams.  And he's the best NBA athlete among a surprisingly large number of athletes to wear the jersey number 54.

The Chicago Bulls took Grant with the number 10 pick in the 1987 NBA draft, out of Clemson, where he was a second team AP All-American.  He would initially play behind, somewhat ironically given the rivalry with the Knicks, Charles Oakley.

Oakley's trade to the Knicks would pave the way for Grant to strut his stuff.  The 1988-89 season would see Grant score more than 1,000 points and pull down over 600 boards.  That would be the beginning of five consecutive seasons where Grant would score 1,000 or more points.

In the 1991 NBA playoffs, he averaged a stupendous .583 from the field in 17 games.  His contributions for the Bulls led him to his first championship ring, as Chicago defeated the Lakers in 5 games.

Grant wouldn't have to wait long to get another championship ring.  He and the Bulls would capture the NBA crown in 1992, topping the Trail Blazers in 6.  Grant dominated the boards in the Finals, leading everyone with 194 rebounds in the playoffs that year.

The Bulls would produce the same result the following year, only this time, they topped the Phoenix Suns in the 1993 Finals.  Grant's performance was almost as phenomenal as it was the previous year.  156 rebounds, 203 points and a .546 field goal percentage.

Grant moved on to Orlando and the Magic in 1994-95 where he would spend a handful of seasons, before bouncing between Seattle, L.A., and Orlando again.  Here are some career highlights:
  • 12,996 points
  • 9,443 rebounds
  • 1,143 steals
  • 4 NBA championships (3 with Chicago, 1 with L.A.)
  • 4-time NBA All-Defensive 2nd team
  • 1,136 blocks
  • .509 field goal percentage
Did you know.........................Grant was the ACC Player of the Year with Clemson in 1987?

sources:  basketball-reference.com, wikipedia.com

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NBA Athlete Number 53 - Artis Gilmore

Artis Gilmore spent five seasons in the ABA, wearing the number 53 for the Kentucky Colonels, and leading that league in total rebounds for all five seasons in which he played.  He would be the number one pick in the 1976 ABA dispersal draft, taken by the Chicago Bulls, which followed the disbanding of the ABA.

A switch to a new, and many would say more competitive, league would not result in any severe drop-off in production for Mr. Gilmore.  Playing with Chicago, the Spurs and briefly, the Celtics, through 1987-88, Gilmore achieved the following in the NBA:
  • 15,579 points
  • 9,161 rebounds
  • .599 field goal percentage (1st all-time)
  • 1,747 blocks
  • 1.9 blocks per game
  • 10.1 rebounds per game
  • 4,114 free throws
Did you know............Gilmore was the 1971-72 ABA Rookie of the Year and MVP?

See more of Gilmore's stats at basketball-reference.com.

sources:  basketball-reference.com, wikipedia.com

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NBA Athlete Number 52 - Buck Williams

The "Buck" stops here, with jersey number 52.  He should have been drafted by Milwaukee, but was taken by the New Jersey Nets with the third overall pick in the 1981 NBA draft out of Maryland.  It would be a wise pick by the Nets.

Williams would start in all 82 regular season games as a rook with the former ABA Nets.  The lean Williams not only started for the Nets, he produced.  How 'bout over 1,000 points as a rookie?  Not bad.  He also pulled down over 1,000 rebounds in that first season.

You could call Williams a rebounding machine for his first six seasons in the league.  He averaged over 12.0 boards a game for those first six seasons with the Nets.  He also averaged over 15.0 points per game in that same time span.  

In 1989, Williams was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers for Sam Bowie and a first round draft pick.  While his production on the west coast didn't quite match what it was with the Nets, it was certainly nothing to sneeze at.

Williams actually led the league in field goal percentage in his second and third years with the Trail Blazers, with a better than .600 percentage in each year.  He would stay with Portland for seven seasons, then signing with the New York Knicks for the 1996-97 season.  He retired after two campaigns with the Knicks, at age 37.

Some of William's NBA career highlights:
  • 16,784 points
  • 13,017 rebounds (14th all-time)
  • .549 field goal percentage (15th all-time)
  • 4,526 offensive rebounds (4th all-time)
  • 1982 Rookie of the Year
Look at his stats at basketball-reference.com.  Is there any doubt that he should be in the Hall of Fame?  

Did you know................that Buck's given first name is Charles?

sources:  basketball-reference.com, wikipedia.com

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NBA Athlete Number 51 - Reggie King

51 is a more popular jersey number than you might think.  There have been quite a few to wear this number.  Of those, my pick for the best NBA athlete is Reggie King.  

Reggie King was appropriately selected by the Kansas City Kings with the 18th pick in the 1979 NBA draft.  Coming out of the University of Alabama, King would see immediate playing time, landing on the NBA hard-wood for all 82 regular season games as a rookie.  He would average 8.2 points per game with 6.9 rebounds per game in that initial campaign.

His sophomore NBA season was even more of a success.  He scored over 1,000 points without starting a single game.  He played in 81 games, but did not start in any of them.   He would also play in 15 playoff games that season, scoring an impressive 319 points.

He had earned his starting position with the Kings, and would be there for 76 of 80 games in the 1981-82 NBA season.  1,000 points was not in the cards, but King came very close, notching 967.

Playing time and subsequently production trailed in the following season with the Kings, before a trade would land King with the Seattle Super Sonics.  King would wind up his NBA career with two seasons as a Sonic.

For his NBA career, King scored 3,898 points with 2,707 rebounds.

Did you know.................King was a second team AP All-American with the Crimson Tide?

sources:  nba.com, basketball-reference.com

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NBA Athlete Number 50 - David Robinson

50, now there's a popular jersey number!  There have been many NBA athletes, and many accomplished ones, who have donned the number 50.  In my mind, this is an easy one.  It's the Admiral, David Robinson.

Robinson, who of course attended the Naval Academy, was taken with the number one pick in the 1987 NBA draft.  After spending some required time in the Navy after graduation, Robinson joined the Spurs for the 1989-90 NBA campaign.

He was an immediate NBA success.  Robinson played in all 82 games as a rookie, starting in 81 of them.  He nearly scored 2,000 points and nearly pulled down 1,000 in his first foray in professional basketball.  This earned him a unanimous selection as the NBA Rookie of the Year.  (He even finished 6th in the MVP voting!)

Robinson was just getting warmed up.  In his second NBA season, he would lead the NBA in rebounds (1,063) and blocks (320).  He also went over the 2K mark in scoring, notching 2,101 points.

He would continue to produce, year-in, year-out, with a military work ethic.  His fifth pro season saw him lead the NBA in scoring (2,383), which was due in part to the trips he took to the foul line, leading the league in free-throws made as well with 693.

Robinson would go over the 2,000 point mark two more times in his career, spent entirely with San Antonio.  Some of the Admiral's playing career highlights include:

  • 2-time NBA Champion (1999, 2003)
  • 20,790 points
  • .518 field-goal percentage
  • 10,497 rebounds
  • 2,954 blocks (6th all-time)
  • 3.0 blocks per game (4th all-time)
  • 2009 Hall of Fame inductee 

Did you know.....................Robinson was actually a Lieutenant in the Navy?

See more David Robinson stats here.
Read more about him here.

sources:  wikipedia.com, basketball-reference.com

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NBA Athlete Number 49 - Shandon Anderson

Another jersey number that hasn't been worn often at all.  Only two NBA athletes to date have sported 49.  We're getting into that area of 1-99 that dips in popularity.  Most athletes want number 23 or 5 or something "cool" like that.  You're not going to see too many requests for a jersey number in the 60s or 70s.  But, we'll count 'em down all the same.

Shandon Anderson wore 49 while hitting the court for the New York Knicks between 2002 and 2005, and then for the Miami Heat in 2005 and 2006.  (He previously wore number 40 for the Jazz and Rockets).

He played a full slate of regular season games with the Knicks in his first two years, while playing in a near full slate in his third.  He would only play in one game with them in his fourth and final season in New York.

Shandon's field goal percentage was a healthy .457 for his career, and he would shoot somewhere around that mark for his time spent wearing blue and orange.

He would round out his career with two seasons in South Beach, not shooting less than .429 in either season.  He also picked up an NBA Championship as a contributing member of the 2006 Miami Heat team.

Did you know.............Anderson played his college ball at Georgia?

source:  basketball-reference.com

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NBA Athlete Number 48 - Walt Gilmore

As far as I can tell, only one NBA athlete has worn the number 48.  And they only wore it for one season.  The least popular jersey number to date.  You want to own a jersey number, Mr. NBA athlete?  Wear number 48 for a few years.  Doesn't seem like that bad of a number to me.  

Anyway, Walt Gilmore wore jersey number 48 in 1971 for the Portland Trail Blazers.  The 25th overall selection in the 1970 NBA draft out of Fort Valley State scored 58 points in 27 NBA games played.

source:  basketball-reference.com

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NBA Athlete Number 47 - Andrei Kirilenko

Number 47 was worn by Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas for just one season, so we'll take him out of the mix here.  Andrei Kirlenko is then our selection here, wearing number 47 for his entire NBA career up to this point.

The Russian native was selected by the Utah Jazz with the 24th pick in the 1999 NBA draft.  Kirilenko would remain with the CSKA Moscow basketball club for two seasons after his selection by the Jazz, joining his Utah team for the 2001-02 NBA campaign.

His NBA career was an immediate success, as he notched over 800 points in his rookie effort.  The first team All-Rookie member would not only provide needed offense, he would swat shots at an impressive rate.  As a rook, he blocked 159 shots.  This trend would continue.

Kirilenko has spent his career to-date with Utah, all the while wearing number 47.  Some of his playing accomplishments include:

  • 2.0 blocks per game (23rd all-time)
  • 1,380 career shots blocked (40th all-time)
  • 2004-05 season blocks per-game leader (3.3 per game)
  • 8,411 career regular season points
  • 3,836 total rebounds
Did you know............at the time of his NBA selection, he was the youngest European player ever selected?

sources:  wikipedia.com, basketball-reference.com

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NBA Athlete Number 46 - Dennis Bell

Although there have been thousands upon thousands of NBA athletes, and only 100 uniform numbers (not counting 00 - I don't think anyone has ever worn the number 100...), not every jersey number has been worn by a large population of athletes.  Take, for example, jersey number 46.  Not a popular one, worn by as few as four NBA athletes according to basketball-reference.com.

Of those three, only one athlete wore the number for more than two seasons.  Dennis Bell, a fifth round pick of the New York Knicks in the 1973 NBA draft saw one game of service during his rookie campaign with the Knickerbockers.

The following season would see Bell get much more playing time, landing on the hardwood for 52 regular season ball games.  He would score 156 points and pull down 105 boards in those 52 games.

He would wind down his NBA career with the Knicks playing in 10 more regular season games in his third and final NBA season.

Did you know........Bell played his college ball at Drake University?  

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NBA Athlete Number 45 - Rudy Tomjanovich

Rudy Tomjanovich, known to NBA fans as "Rudy T", was a great NBA coach.  Did you know he was also a great NBA athlete?  He was, in fact, the best to ever wear the jersey number 45 in the league (excepting Michael Jordan's brief stint in the number, prior to switching back to his familiar number 23.)

Rudy T was drafted with the second overall pick in the 1970 NBA draft by the San Diego Rockets out of Michigan.  He would spend a cup of coffee with the Rockets in beautiful San Diego, before joining his teammates in their trek to Houston.  It was in that sophomore season that Rudy T would show his stuff, scoring 1,172 points.

Tomjanovich remained with the Rockets for his entire playing career, lasting through the 1980-81 NBA season, all-the-while wearing number 45.  A few of Rudy T's playing accomplishments:
  • 13,383 career points
  • 5-time All-Star
  • 6,198 total rebounds
  • .784 free-throw percentage
  • 1,573 assists
  • Jersey number 45 retired by Houston
Did you know.......only Hakeem Olajuwon and Calvin Murphy have scored more career points with the Rockets?

See more stats here.

sources:  usabasketball.com, wikipedia.com, basketball-reference.com, 

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NBA Athlete Number 44 - Jerry West

I thought this number would go to George "Iceman" Gervin.  But looking a little deeper it's gotta be Jerry West here.  The man who the NBA fashioned it's logo after was taken by the L.A. Lakers with the number 2 pick in the 1960 NBA draft out of his home state West Virginia University Mountaineers.  He would score more than 1,000 points in his rookie campaign and would not look back.

In his second NBA season, West would score more than 2,000 points, which he would do five times during his Laker career.  During an NBA career spanning the years 1960 to 1974, West only scored less than 1,000 points in one single season, his final, when he played in just 31 games.  That consistency led West to score a career mark of 25,192 regular season points (19th all-time as of this post).  His career points-per-game was an even 27.0, 5th all-time in the NBA.

Not only could West score, seemingly at will, he could also dish the ball.  He averaged 6.7 assists per game, tallying 6,238 in his career.

The 1968-69 NBA Finals MVP (the first ever for a non-Championship winning team), would eventually get his Championship ring as his Lakers knocked of the New York Knicks in the 1972 NBA Finals.

West was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980.

Did you know............the Lakers have retired the jersey number 44 in honor of Jerry West?

sources:  NBA.com, basketball-reference.com, wikipedia.com,

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6,600 Yards Passing?

Just heard, watching the Cowboys vs. 49ers game, that Cam Newton is on pace for more than 6,600 yards passing this year.  Another 400 plus yard passing game today.  Wow.  Has any rookie quarterback ever started this well?  I don't think so.

Newton is proving to be the real deal............quickly.  Who cares if he threw three interceptions today?  He ran for a touchdown, threw a touchdown, and passed for more than 400 yards.  As a rookie!  He passed for more yards today than Ben Roethlisberger (two Super Bowls), Aaron Rodgers (reigning Super Bowl champ), and Drew Brees (Super Bowl champ two years ago).  Think this guy is going to be good?  Uh, yeah, think of that quarterback who currently wears number 7 for the Eagles.  He's going to be that good.

Newton is currently on pace to break Sam Bradford's rookie record for pass completions (354).  He's had 24 and 28 completions in the past two weeks.  With a current pace of more than 6,600 yards passing for the season, Newton is easily on pace to best Peyton Manning's rookie record of 3,739 passing yards set in 1998.

sources:  Fox Sports, wikipedia.com,

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NBA Athlete Number 43 - Jack Sikma

Jack Sikma, wearing number 43 for his entire NBA career, is under-rated.  In my opinion, after looking at his statistics, he doesn't get the publicity he deserves.

Splitting his NBA career between Seattle and Milwaukee, Sikma was drafted by the SuperSonics with the eighth pick of the 1977 NBA draft out of Illinois Wesleyan University.

After notching 876 points in his rookie season, good enough for All-Rookie team honors, Sikma would start an impressive run of 11 consecutive seasons with more than 1,000 points scored.  That run helped him reach his career regular-season mark of 17,287 points.

Sikma also excelled on the boards, twice going over 1,000 in a season, and pulling down 10,816 for his career.  His defensive rebound mark was particularly impressive as he 8,274 total, putting him 15th all-time.  His average per game was 9.8 boards.

The SuperSonics would win the 1979 NBA title largely due to Sikma's rebounding efforts,  as he pulled down 17 per game in each of the third, fourth and fifth Championship games against the Washington Bullets.

Did you know..............that Sikma's jersey number 43 has been retired by the Seattle SuperSonics franchise?

sources:  nba.com, basketball-reference.com,

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Warriors to Retire Jersey Number 17

According to the Contra Costa Times, the Golden State Warriors will be retiring the jersey number 17 in honor of Chris Mullin.  While Mullin is not my pick for the best NBA athlete to ever wear number 17, the New York native is one of the best to ever play the game and his NBA playing career certainly warrants the retirement of his jersey number by his primary employer.

According to basketball-reference.com, Chris Mullin knocked down 6,740 career field goals, 815 of them three-pointers.  He also had 3,616 free throws with a .866 percentage.  He scored 17,911 points with a .594 shooting percentage.

He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.

Mullin's number 17 will be retired on January 20, 2012, at a home game for the Warriors against the Indiana Pacers.

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NBA Athlete Number 42 - Nate Thurmond

Number 42 has been worn in the NBA by a few Hall of Famers including Nate Thurmond, Connie Hawkins and James Worthy (who is certainly "worthy" of this honor - sorry, couldn't resist that one!)  There have also been quite a few recent and future HOFers to wear this number.  But my pick is Nate Thurmond (even though I suspect the popular pick would be James Worthy).

Nate Thurmond, who according to NBA.com was a "genial giant of a man", wore number 42 throughout his NBA career after being taken with the third pick of the 1963 NBA draft by the San Francisco Warriors out of Bowling Green.

A certain Hall of Famer named Wilt Chamberlain was playing center for the Warriors upon Thurmond's arrival to the franchise.  This let Thurmond "apprentice" under one of the greatest centers to ever play the game.  

Thurmond's strength above all others was his rebounding.  He would pull down more than 1,000 boards in eight separate seasons.  His career total was 14,464, with an average of 15 rebounds per game (5th all-time as of this post).  He even pulled down 18 boards in one quarter to set an NBA record and best both Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.  

Thurmond would spend most of his career as a Warrior with brief stints in both Chicago and Cleveland.  His jersey number 42 has been retired by both the Warriors and the Cavaliers.  He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1985.

Did you know...................that Thurmond was the first player to ever record a quadruple-double?

See more Nate Thurmond stats at basketball-reference.com and read more about him at NBA.com.

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NFL Number 42
MLB Number 42
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NBA Athlete Number 41 - Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki.  What can you say about him?  Well, for one, he put his Dallas Maverick teammates on his back and carried them to the 2011 NBA Championship over the, ahem, "dream team" in Miami.  (To be fair, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler and crew also had a very good NBA finals performance).  He's also, with considerably strong competition, the best NBA athlete to ever wear the jersey number 41. (And to be fair to Miami, they did make it to the NBA finals in their first season together.  Although some would say they should have, with the talent they had).

Quite simply, Nowitzki is one of the best forwards to ever play the NBA game.  After being selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the 1998 NBA draft, his rights were traded to the Dallas Mavericks.  And boy, the Mavericks are glad they made that trade.

Between the 1998-99 and 2010-11 NBA seasons, Nowitzki has achieved the following:

  • 22,792 points (28th all-time)
  • 23 points per game (23rd all-time)
  • 2006-07 NBA MVP
  • 2010-11 NBA Finals MVP
  • .877 free-throw percentage (14th all-time)
  • 1,197 three-pointers (39th all-time)
  • 11-time All-NBA team
  • 10-time NBA All-Star
  • 2010-11 NBA Champion
  • 8,315 rebounds
The combination of outside shooting ability, including a strong three-point shooting skill, with rebounding and free-throw dominance is not common in the NBA, or any league for that matter.   Nowitzki is a well-rounded forward who can take control of a game.  The 2010-11 NBA Finals showcased that skill.  

Did you know...........that Dirk has averaged more than 25 points-per-game in the 11 consecutive NBA season playoffs that he has led his Mavericks to?

sources:  nba.com, wikipedia.com, basketball-reference.com

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NBA Athlete Number 40 - Bill Laimbeer

Number 40 has been a fairly popular jersey number throughout the NBA.  Some notable athletes to wear it have been:  Shawn Kemp, Udonis Haslem, Willie Anderson, Calbert Cheaney, Dave Corzine, and Byron Beck.  The most notable however, (with the possible exception of Shawn Kemp), has been Detroit "Bad Boy" Bill Laimbeer.

Laimbeer was taken in the third round of the 1979 NBA draft, out of Notre Dame, by the Cleveland Cavaliers.    He would spend one season playing ball in Italy, before joining the Cavaliers in 1980.  After a couple of season in Cleveland, Laimbeer would be sent to Detroit, where he would make his NBA fame.

He became an NBA rebounding machine, twice leading the league in that category, and racking up 10,400 over his career.

Laimbeer wasn't too bad at putting the ball in the hoop either, going over 1,000 points in a season seven times, and scoring 13,790 points over his career.

Many fans will remember Laimbeer as one of the leaders of the physical Detroit "Bad Boy" teams that won the NBA title in both 1989 and 1990.

Did you know.................that Bill Laimbeer played one of the Sleestacks on the Land of the Lost TV show?  Who would've thunk it?!

sources:  wikipedia.com, basketball-reference.com, imdb.com

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NBA Athlete Number 39 - Greg Ostertag

If you're a college basketball fan, you probably remember Greg Ostertag playing for the Jayhawks.  If you only follow the NBA, then you're sure to recall Ostertag as a member of some decent Utah Jazz squads.

Ostertag wore number 39 for two seasons between 2000 and 2001 with the Jazz (his primary number during his NBA career was 00, which I do not include - yet - in my lists).  Ostertag was valued for his physical dominance with his large frame (7' 2" and 280 lbs.), but he could also shoot the rock, with 3,512 career points.

His point scoring couldn't compare to his rebounding efforts however.  All told, he pulled down an impressive 4,145 rebounds during his 11 year career spent primarily in Utah.  And his rebounding may not have been as strong as his shot blocking.  He swatted 1,293 shots, good enough for 44th all-time.  He blocked 1.7 shots per game which puts him 31st all-time in that category currently.

Did you know...........that Ostertag played in two NCAA final fours with the Kansas Jayhawks?

sources:  basketball-reference.com, espn.com, wikipedia.com

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NBA Athlete Number 38 - Viktor Khryapa

38 has been worn by almost as few NBA athletes as 37.  The names may not be as notable, however, as Ron Artest and Nick Van Exel.  Number 1 pick Kwame Brown did wear number 37, but for only two years.  Of the players that have worn 38, there is one that donned the jersey for four seasons, and put up respectable numbers while doing so.

Viktor Khryapa played with the Portland Trailblazers and Chicago Bulls over four seasons, all while wearing number 38.

The Russian native scored 403 points while pulling down 307 boards for Portland during the 2005-06 season.  Over four NBA seasons, Khryapa scored 643 points with 492 rebounds.

Did you know........Khryapa was selected by the New Jersey Nets in the 2004 NBA draft?

sources:  wikipedia.com, basketball-reference.com

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NBA Athlete Number 37 - Ron Artest

Number 37 is possibly the most unpopular jersey number in the NBA.  According to basketball-reference.com, only 3 NBA players have worn that number to date.  They are:  Ron Artest, Jack Smiley and Nick Van Exel.  And each player only wore the number for one year.

Of those three, the nod goes to St. John's alum Ron Artest, who wore number 37 in 2009-10 when he racked up 845 regular season points for the NBA champion L.A. Lakers.

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NBA Athlete Number 36 - Rasheed Wallace

Rasheed Wallace has worn several different jersey numbers during his lengthy NBA career.  He has most notably worn number 36 while playing with the Motown Pistons however.

Wallace has scored an impressive amount of points over his career. More than 15,000.  And he put up a bunch of those notches on the scoreboard while playing for the Pistons.  In fact, he scored more than 1,000 points in a season twice while playing with Detroit.

While Wallace has been known for getting into foul trouble, with 3,219 career personal fouls, he has also been known to score when necessary and block shots with reckless abandon.  Through the 2010-11 NBA season, Wallace has knocked away a very impressive 1,445 shots in his career.

Did you know................that Rasheed played one game with, and wore number 36 for, the Atlanta Hawks?

sources:  espn.com, basketball-reference.com

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NBA Athlete Number 35 - Kevin Durant

Some people might think it's a little too early in his career to name Kevin Durant the best NBA athlete to ever wear the jersey number 35.  I'd say those people should think again.  It ain't too early.

Durant has played in four NBA seasons as of this post.  And he's dominated in all four.  "Durantula" has led the NBA in scoring for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons with 2,472 and 2,161 points respectively.  Still think it's too early to name him the best to wear 35?

He's led the NBA in free throws for the past two seasons.  Still too early?

He was the 2007-08 NBA Rookie of the Year after scoring 1,624 points in Seattle.

Want to know why Durant wears number 35?  After you read the story, Durant just might be you're favorite NBA player, if he's not already.  Here's the story.

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NBA Athlete Number 34 - Hakeem Olajuwon

Hakeem "The Dream".  The number one selection by the Rockets out of local University of Houston in the 1984 NBA draft would go on to prove his worth as that first pick.  He may, in fact, be the best shot blocker that the NBA has ever seen.

Olajuwon would begin pulling down boards and blocking shots as a pro in Houston immediately.  The three-time rookie of the month during the '84-'85 season wouldn't stop until he achieved a Hall of Fame worthy NBA career.

Hakeem would wear the number 34 for his entire career spent mostly with the Rockets (he had a brief stint in Toronto to close out his career).  He became one of the pre-eminent centers of all-time, scoring 26,946 points for his career, while pulling down 13,748 boards and blocking an astounding 3,830 shots (ranking 1st all-time).

He would lead his rockets to the NBA Championship in both 1994 and 1995 and he would be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.  

Did you know...................Olajuwon is a native of the country of Nigeria?

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Jersey Number News

Is the fact that there was an uproar about a player wearing the jersey number 36 and indication that the Eagles will someday retire it in honor of Villanova alum and NFL great Brian Westbrook?

Brian Westbrook Jersey: Reebok Green Replica #36 Philadelphia Eagles Jersey - Large
Tedy Bruschi Classic NFL Jersey BraceletWould you rather have a Hall of Fame type player's jersey number retired or worn by an up and coming athlete on your favorite team? Well, Teddy Bruschi for one, thinks that the jersey numbers should be worn again. In fact, he thinks his famous Patriots' 54 should be worn by Brian Waters. Very cool of him. Another such instance of this is Dez Bryant wearing Michael Irvin's famous 88 with the Dallas Cowboys.

If you're a Cubbie fan and want the jersey of the new Pacific Coast League MVP call-up to Chicago, Bryan LaHair, you'll want to get one with his number six.

adidas Oklahoma City Thunder #35 Kevin Durant Navy Blue Net Player T-shirt (X-Large)Did you see how Kevin Durant's new tat pays homage to his jersey number 35?

Bobby Hull Autographed Jersey | Details: Chicago Blackhawks, Red CCM JerseyNHL.com wants to know if number 9 has the greatest collection of talent ever, as worn by NHLers? The fact that Howe, Hull, Richard and Modano wore this number is good enough in my book.

Did you know................that Skip Holtz wore jersey number 9 as a walk-on at Notre Dame?

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NBA Athlete Number 33 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

You can just call him Kareem.  People will know who you are talking about.  No need to invoke his previous name:  Lew Alcindor.  Or his current last name:  Abdul-Jabbar.  Just say Kareem and people will know who you're talking about.

Unfortunately, you can't say the same thing about number 33.  You can't just say number 33 and people will automatically think of Kareem.  Because, you see, there was this guy who wore a green uniform up in Boston.  He could shoot the ball like no one else before or after him.  He could will his team to wins.  Yes, Mr. Bird was one of the best ever.  No doubt.

But here, when looking at the best ever to wear number 33, I have to go with Kareem.  The numbers tell me that it has to be him.  

  • 6-time NBA Champion
  • 6-time NBA MVP
  • 2-time NBA Finals MVP
  • 15,837 field goals (1st all-time)
  • 17,440 rebounds (4th all-time)
  • 38,387 career points (1st all-time)
  • 24.6 ppg
  • 2.8 blocks per game
  • 1995 Hall of Fame inductee
Did you know............that Kareem was the number one pick in the 1969 NBA draft?

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NBA Athlete Number 32 - Magic Johnson

I was fairly confident that this number should go to Magic Johnson.  But, there were a few other phenomenal athletes in the mix, including Karl Malone.  So I put this one up for my readers to decide.  And it was overwhelmingly decided that Magic is the best to ever wear number 32 in the NBA.

What can you say about Magic that people don't already know?  Not much.  He's one of the best basketball players ever, hands down, and quite possibly the best passer the game has ever seen.

  • 5 NBA Championships
  • 3-time MVP of NBA Finals
  • 3-time NBA MVP
  • 10,141 career assists (4th all-time)
  • 19.5 ppg
  • 17,707 points
  • 1.9 steals per game
Did you know............that Magic played against Larry Bird in the 1979 NCAA finals?  

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