SportsNation Blog ArchivesSN Blog Archives Chicago Bulls

Who are the best NBA players ever to wear each jersey number?

Apparel company Mitchell & Ness took this question and figuratively ran with it, creating a graphic that lists the best player to wear every number that's ever graced the front and back of an NBA uniform.

NBAMitchell & Ness

Some notes:

• There are a few incontrovertible choices: No. 23 for Michael Jordan (unless you're Kendrick Perkins or Bill Laimbeer), No. 45 for MJ (even if he wore it for just a few weeks in 1995), No. 00 for Robert Parish, No. 1 for Oscar Robertson, and a few others.

• There are heated debates for other numbers, particularly the overloaded No. 33, where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar edged Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Scottie Pippen and others. (This writer's opinion: Kareem was the absolute right choice).

• Late-career changes helped squeeze excellent players onto the list in numbers they're not always best known for. Karl Malone (No. 32 with the Utah Jazz) gets on for his one year as No. 11 with the Los Angeles Lakers, since he was never going to overtake Magic Johnson. Shaquille O'Neal wore 32 (Magic), 33 (Kareem) and 34 (Hakeem Olajuwon) at points in his career, but gets on the list with his Boston Celtics No. 36. And Kevin Garnett, who probably wouldn't have edged Tim Duncan out for No. 21, thankfully had the No. 5 spot all to himself for his post-Minnesota Timberwolves stint with the Celtics.

• The end of this list is absolutely wonderful, with Scot Pollard, Jason Kapono, Shawn Bradley, Vladimir Radmanovic and DeShawn Stevenson bringing back so many memories. But it also contains some great significance: Jason Collins, the NBA's first openly gay player, wore No. 98 as a tribute to Matthew Shepard.

The Panda's Friend? More like The Oddball Jersey Number's Friend! Yes, Ron Artest, aka Metta World Peace, shows up a list-topping four times here, for Nos. 37, 51, 93 and 96, edging out equally eccentric talent Dennis Rodman (three: 70, 73, 91).

• Biggest omission from the list? LeBron James. Sure, he's not going to overtake Jordan (see above) for No. 23. But No. 6? That spot was given to Bill Russell, who wore his signature number for the Celtics while winning 11 championships. But some -- maybe even this writer (bring out the haters!) -- believe James, who wore No. 6 during his four-year stint with the Miami Heat, is/was the better player.

Comment »

LeBron/JordanGetty Images

Ah, the Michael Jordan versus [insert modern star here] debate. As much as many (most?) people might like to see it retired, or at least diminished, it's not going away anytime soon.

Case-in-point: Kendrick Perkins and J.R. Smith, Cleveland Cavaliers players fresh off watching LeBron James' gutsy performance in a Game 3 overtime win over the Atlanta Hawks, brought up MJ in the context of their four-time-MVP, two-time-champion teammate.

Perkins, as told to Northeast Ohio Media Group: "The only thing that he's missing is a couple more championships, and then it's a wrap. Right now, we have arguably the best player to ever play the game. I'm just saying, man. I'm not taking anything away from Jordan, but all [James is] missing is titles. A couple of more titles, and that's it."

And Smith, as told to the same publication: "That's one hell of a debate. Honestly, in my opinion, if it's not Jordan, then it's him. It used to be no question. It was a landslide. It was Jordan. Now, you have to consider my boy."

Smith's comments are more measured; if you don't consider James one of the greatest players of all time, you're just a hater.

But Perkins? He's kind of, sort of saying LeBron is better ... if only he had Jordan's six rings.

Some might channel Jason Segel and respond that six rings is THE ONLY ARGUMENT I NEED, KENDRICK!

We prefer a more nuanced view, though nearly every unit of measurement favors MJ as No. 1.

Still, there's time left in LeBron's career, so you never know ...

H/T Northeast Ohio Media Group

Comment »

Kevin GarnettNathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

On Monday, Bleacher Report released an oral history of Kevin Garnett. Now, an oral history of one particular player might seem a little much, unless that player is a human anecdote machine -- which the former/current Minnesota Timberwolves and former Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets big man most certainly is.

We pulled some of the best quotes from the piece related to Garnett's infamous intensity and trash talk, but it really is worth the whole read:

Joe Abunassar, Garnett's personal trainer: "We had been working out and we went to Memorial Park [in L.A.], and he had forgotten his socks. It was him, [Chauncey] Billups, [Al] Harrington, Ty Lue, Michael Ruffin and a few others. He played every game. He was dunking on guys and blocking shots -- all with no socks on. Hours he was playing. When it was over, there was blood seeping through the front of his shoes. Part of his feet and toes were just bleeding. It was unbelievable."

Chris Bosh, Miami Heat/former Toronto Raptors forward: "Usually I don't talk back, but if he said something to me, I said something back. I had just a terrible game for me [against the Celtics in the 2011 playoffs]. He got me all off my game. He scored, like, four times in a row on me in the crunch. And I was so embarrassed and so upset, and he got in my head. Ever since that day, I never said anything else."

Paul Pierce, former Celtics and Nets teammate: "One time, he asked [Joakim] Noah if he could rub through his hair, like a female or something. ... And I know that kind of made [Noah] hot. And this was when Noah was a rookie, too. I remember Noah looked up to KG. He was like, 'Man, KG, I had your poster on my wall, I looked up to you, man.' And then [Garnett] just said something like that, and was like 'F--- you, Noah.' I was like, 'Whoa.' This kid fresh out of college, looks up to KG, just said he had his poster on the wall, and he tells him that! It crushed him. It crushed Noah."

Pierce again, recalling a light moment between himself (then with Boston) and Garnett (then with Minnesota): "We were both on losing teams at this point. This is probably around the last week of the season. We're talking [trash] at the free throw line. I'm like, 'Man, everybody needs to shut up, because we all going to the Bahamas next week.' And as intense as he was, he had to look up and just start laughing. ... I said, 'I'm going to Cancun. Where are you going, Ticket?' He said, 'I'm going to St. Lucia.'"

Tyronn Lue, former NBA guard: "A lot of people do all their howling on the court and they're faking just for attention, but what he does is genuine. So one day we were at his house and we were watching Puff Daddy's show 'Making the Band,' and in one of the scenes, some new guys came in and were trying to sing and were trying to compete against the guys who had been there. And KG just got so hyped: "M-----f-----, you've got to stand up for yours! You've got to fight! M-----f----, you've got to come together!" He's going crazy, he's sweaty. And he just head-butts the wall and put a hole in the wall of his house."

Check out the story here.

Comment »

After trailing 2-1 in the series, you could say the Cleveland Cavaliers turned things around against the Chicago Bulls. LeBron James & Co. won three straight, including the clincher: Thursday night's emphatic 94-73 victory in Chicago.

Then someone had a little fun on Wikipedia (to you we-love-LeBron-so-much truthers, we promise it wasn't us):

Bulls Wiki Wikipedia

LeBron James, owner of the Bulls. And while Jerry Reinsdorf (the real owner) isn't going to hand his franchise over anytime soon, we see why this Wikipedia jokester did what he or she did: A James team has eliminated the Bulls from four of the past six postseasons, while the Bulls have never done the same to James.

So yes, in web parlance, they've definitely being "owned."

(The page has since been changed back, by the way.)

Comment »

LeBron James, Michael JordanGetty Images

Americans' respect, reverence, love and outright worship of Michael Jordan might never end.

The latest evidence: In a recent survey of 1,471 registered voters conducted from May 7 to May 10, Public Policy Polling found that not only do 77 percent of people find Jordan to be the greatest NBA player of all time, but 34 percent said MJ would beat LeBron James one-on-one ... right now. Only 54 percent said LeBron would win the matchup.

Reminder: Jordan is 52, and retired from basketball 12 years ago after posting decent but very un-MJ-like stats (19.3 player efficiency rating and a pedestrian 6.2 win shares). James is 30, just finished third in NBA MVP voting, posted a 25.9 PER and 10.4 win shares, and scored 38 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a playoff game.

Now, these being registered voters and therefore 18 and older, it's possible that their age and memories of vintage Jordan are influencing their opinion.

It's also possible that you agree with their assertion -- that MJ was just so good as to be unbeatable.

We don't agree; while we're on board with Jordan being the clear No. 1 all-time, today this matchup wouldn't even be close.

Now it's time for you to decide, then check out who is America's favorite NBA player (you can also read the full report here).

Comment »