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Saturday, May 14, 2011
Not so unlucky No. 13

By Amanda Rykoff

In honor of Friday the 13th, the most unlucky day on the calendar, we take a look at the athletes past and present who have proudly sported the number.

MLB: Alex Rodriguez
The All-Star third baseman didn't always flout superstition with his jersey number. In Seattle and Texas, he wore No. 3 before being traded to the Yankees. When he arrived in the Bronx in 2004, No. 3 was not available -- the team had retired it in honor of some guy named Babe Ruth. So he opted for 13 and hasn't looked back. Since adding a 1 to the 3, Rodriguez has won two AL MVP awards, three Silver Slugger awards and a World Series ring -- and has even dated Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz. Sure, he had to fess up to using steroids, but that's just a bump in the road. Unlucky 13? Hardly. P.S. The Yankees start a three-game series against the Red Sox today -- yup, Friday the 13th.

NBA: Wilt Chamberlain
No. 13 was anything but unlucky for Chamberlain. And no, we're not talking about his off-the-field exploits. The Hall of Fame center is the greatest basketball player to wear 13. Chamberlain won four MVP awards, seven straight scoring titles and two championship rings during his storied career. He was even a 13-time All-Star. (You can't make this stuff up!) Chamberlain's iconic 13 has been retired by the University of Kansas and every team he played for during his 25-year professional career: the Warriors, 76ers, Lakers and, yes, even the Harlem Globetrotters.

NFL: Dan Marino
Marino is regarded as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game. The 2005 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and the 1984 NFL MVP. When Marino retired on March 13, 2000, he held 25 NFL passing records and shared five others. Though Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have since surpassed many of those marks (including most interceptions), Marino still holds many records outright. Of course, he's burdened with the label of "the best quarterback to never win a Super Bowl." Some say that's the biggest curse of all for the Dolphins' all-time great. Was it the number? We'll never know. But no player will wear 13 again for Miami, as the team retired Marino's number in 2000.

NHL: Mats Sundin
Sundin proudly donned the No. 13 sweater for all three of his teams during his 18-year NHL career. The Swedish center starred primarily for the Toronto Maple Leafs, for whom he served as team captain for 11 seasons and became the franchise's all-time leader in goals and points. Sundin never won a Stanley Cup but did win an Olympic gold medal for Sweden in 2006. Sure, he suffered some nasty injuries, including a broken orbital bone after being hit in the face with a puck, but was that because of his jersey number or just being a professional hockey player? The nine-time All-Star retired in 2009 with the most career points, goals and assists by a Swedish player in the NHL.

WNBA: Lindsay Whalen
Point guard Lindsay Whalen proudly wears No. 13 for the Minnesota Lynx. The two-time WNBA All-Star has a long history with the number, as she wore it when she starred at the University of Minnesota from 2000 to 2004. She led the school to its only Final Four appearance and graduated as Minnesota's all-time leading scorer, male or female. No Golden Gophers player will wear 13 again; the school retired her jersey number in January 2005.

Honorable mentions: Lance Parrish (MLB), Steve Nash (NBA), Kurt Warner (NFL) and Pavel Datsyuk (NHL).

Did we miss anybody in our No.13 hall of fame?