NBA

Jordan, Magic, Kobe... the NBA's best ever players by shirt number

00: ROBERT PARISH

The legendary wearer of double zero formed one of the best frontcourts in the history of the NBA alongisde Kevin McHale. A four-time NBA champion, a nine-time All-Star, and the league’s highest ever appearance maker.

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0: RUSSELL WESTBROOK

The Lakers point guard is one of the NBA’s best ever in his position. Twice chosen as MVP of the All-Star Game (the only player in history to have won the award in consecutive years), and a nine-time All-Star.

Photo: Wally Skalij Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

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1: OSCAR ROBERTSON

One of the best players in history, capable of averaging triple-doubles across full seasons. An NBA champion in 1971, a two-time All-Star and twice inducted in the Hall of Fame.

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2: MOSES MALONE

An NBA champion, a three-time MVP and one of the great rebounders and inside players in the league’s history, one who tends to be underrated when the rankings of the best ever are put together.

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3: DWYANE WADE

Wade is chosen as the greatest ever number 3, with special mention also going to Allen Iverson. The former’s three championship rings in a career spent with the Miami Heat win out.

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4: DOLPH SCHAYES

Hall of Famer and a legend of the early NBA: he won the championship in 1955 and was a 12-time All-Star, in a career spent with the Syracuse Nationals and their successor, the Philadelphia 76ers.

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5: KEVIN GARNETT

Wore the number 5 during his years at the Boston Celtics, where he won the NBA championship. Garnett sealed his legacy with his MVP award after joining the Minnesota Timberwolves and, aside from Tim Duncan, it’s questionable whether there’s been a better power-forward.

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6: BILL RUSSELL

It's very simple: 13 years with the Boston Celtics, 11 rings. Eternal.

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7. PETE MARAVICH

Injuries curtailed the career of one of the first real ball-handling geniuses. One of the most spectacular point guards ever witnessed, Maravich was a wonderful creator.

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8: KOBE BRYANT

A number 8 first, before switching to 24, Bryant is the second best shooting guard in history, behind only Michael Jordan. Twenty years with the LA Lakers and five rings, the first three alongside Shaquille O’Neal… and with 8 on his back.

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9: BOB PETTIT

An NBA champion in 1958 and the first ever MVP, Pettit also shares the record for All-Star MVP awards: four. Played for the Milwaukee/St Louis Hawks.

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10: WALT FRAZIER

A legendary number 10 for over a decade at Madison Square Garden, Frazier won two championship rings with the New York Knicks (1970 and 1973) and was a seven-time All-Star.

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11: ISIAH THOMAS

Two championship rings, one finals MVP and 12 All-Star appearances for the leader of the Detroit Pistons’ ‘Bad Boys’, the team that came between the era of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, and the era of Michael Jordan.

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12: JOHN STOCKTON

A 10-time All-Star, a nine-time NBA assist leader, a member of the Dream Team… and, for many, the best of the rest behind Magic Johnson when it comes to naming the greatest point guard ever.

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13: WILT CHAMBERLAIN

A two-time NBA champion, four-time MVP, 12-time All-Star and scorer of 100 points in one game… Chamberlain established himself as one of the best ever with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Golden State Warriors and the LA Lakers.

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14: BOB COUSY

A seven-time champion who also won one MVP award, Cousy was an All-Star in each of his seasons with the Boston Celtics. He was the Celtics’ main man until the arrival of Bill Russell.

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15: HAL GREER

Fifteen years wearing the number 15 for the Nationals, who later became the Sixers (where his number has been retired). An NBA champion in 1967, Greer was also a 10-time All-Star and is the Philadelphia franchise’s highest scorer.

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16: BOB LANIER

His number 16 shirt has been retired by the Milwaukee Bucks and the Detroit Pistons. A member of the Hall of Fame and an eight-time All-Star.

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17: JOHN HAVLICEK

Another great legend of the Celtics and the NBA. He spent 16 years in Boston, winning eight championships (and the 1974 finals MVP award) and making the All-Star Game 13 times.

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18: DAVE COWENS

Also a Celtics great, Cowens won MVP, Rookie of the Year and two championships, and was a seven-time All-Star in Boston.

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19: WILLIS REED

Like Walt Frazier, a key figure in the New York Knicks’ years of glory and championship rings. A seven-time All-Star and once MVP, in 1970.

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20: GARY PAYTON

Nicknamed ‘the Glove’ because of his talent for stealing possession, Payton was an exceptional point guard who beat the Seattle SuperSonics’ record for points, assists and steals before moving to the Lakers in search of a championship ring that eluded him. He then joined the Miami Heat in 2006.

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21: TIM DUNCAN

The best power-forward of all time and the player that turned the San Antonio Spurs into one of history's great franchises.

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22: ELGIN BAYLOR

Thirteen years at the Lakers, from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. His is one of the shirts retired by the franchise. An 11-time All-Star and 10-time member of the All-NBA First Team.

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23: MICHAEL JORDAN

There's not much more to say about him: for most, he's the best player ever. Jordan also wore numbers 12 and 45 for the Bulls.

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24: RICK BARRY

A rebel who was forever getting himself into scrapes, an unbearable team-mate... and an extraordinary player who couldn't miss from free throws. The only player who has top scored in at least one season in the NCAA, the ABA and the NBA, where he was one of the first major faces of the Warriors on the west coast.

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25: MARK PRICE

Before LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers also had top teams... such as that led by Mark Price. A four-time All-Star.

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26: BUDDY JEANNETTE

A BAA champion with the Baltimore Bullets in 1948, most of Jeannette’s heroic career came in the pre-NBA era. He became player-coach and then coach at the Bullets, and was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1994.

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27: JACK TWYMAN

One of the first compulsive scorers in history. With the Cincinnati Royals he managed to surpass a per-game season average of 30 points, an incredible achievement in his era. A six-time All-Star, his number was retired by the Sacramento Kings.

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28: SAM CASSELL

Cassell spent 19 years in the NBA at eight teams, before arriving at the Boston Celtics and wearing the number 28. Before then, he had almost always worn 10, as well as 20 and 19. A three-time NBA champion, his 2008 win with the Celtics came almost 15 years after his two triumphs at the Houston Rockets.

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29: PAUL SILAS

He wasn't very tall, but he was a top-class rebounder, winning three championships - two with the Celtics and one with the Sonics - in a 16-year NBA career.

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30: BERNARD KING

The NBA's top scorer in 1985, he was also a four-time All-Star. Sixteen years in the NBA, with spells at the Nets, Jazz, Warriors, Knicks, Bullets...

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31: REGGIE MILLER

The Pacers' top scorer and an absolute legend of the franchise, where he spent his 18-year NBA career. He was a five-time All-Star, but a championship ring eluded him.

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32: MAGIC JOHNSON

The best point guard in history, and one of the greatest players. A wonderful playmaker, his rivalry with Larry Bird shaped the NBA as we know it now. Bird wore the 33 shirt, but as unbelievable as it seems, he doesn't make this list...

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33: KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR

The number 33 shirt has been worn by so many great players, including Larry Bird and Scottie Pippen, but it has to be Abdul-Jabbar who gets the nod. The highest scorer in the history of the NBA and one of the three best players of all time. For some, indeed, the best...

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34: SHAQUILLE O'NEAL

Hakeem Olajuwon also deserves a place on this list, but O'Neal's golden years, with the 34 on his back at the Lakers, were something rarely witnessed. At his other teams, he wore 32, 33 and 36.

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35: KEVIN DURANT

One of the greatest scorers in the history of the league. Currently at the Brooklyn Nets.

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36: RASHEED WALLACE

He also wore 30 and 36. An NBA champion with the Detroit Pistons in 2004 and a four-time All-Star, in terms of pure talent he is one of the best power-forwards in history. His character made him a lovable villain.

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37: METTA WORLD PEACE

He wore six different numbers and even changed his name... Ron Artest/Metta World Peace is one of just four players who have worn 37, a number he sported when he played an unforgettable game 7 as the Lakers won their most recent championship ring, against the Celtics.

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38: KWAME BROWN.

It doesn't say much for this number that the stand-out player to have worn it is Brown, one of the major flops in the history of the draft. The number-one pick in 2001, he did at least put together the odd decent season, such as 2003/04 at the Washington Wizards.

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39: GREG OSTERTAG

Another number only worn by four players. Ostertag spent 11 years in the NBA and played two finals, both of which the Utah Jazz lost to the Chicago Bulls (1997 and 1998).

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40: SHAWN KEMP

An explosive power-forward who was a part of the excellent Seattle SuperSonics team of the 1990s. A runner-up in the 1996 finals, which saw the Chicago Bulls claim the championship, Kemp was a six-time All-Star and a hugely potent dunker.

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41: DIRK NOWITZKI

Possibly the best European player ever to have appeared in the NBA, Nowitzki won one regular-season MVP and another in the finals, when his Dallas Mavericks beat the Miami Heat of LeBron, Wade and Bosh...

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42: JAMES WORTHY

A masterful finisher of the supersonic counter-attacks led by Magic Johnson. A three-time champion, the MVP in the 1988 finals, an insatiable competitor and one of the great small forwards.

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43: JACK SIKMA

An NBA champion in 1979, a seven-time All-Star, an excellent defender and the wearer of a number 43 shirt that has since been retired by the Seattle SuperSonics. Sikma also played for the Milwaukee Bucks.

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44: JERRY WEST

The player used for the NBA logo, no less. Fourteen years with the LA Lakers and 14 All-Star appearances. However, he only won one championship ring, losing eight finals.

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45. RUDY TOMJANOVICH

Coached the Houston Rockets to the NBA championship in 1994 and 1995, having spent nine years with the franchise as a player, earning five All-Star selections. His number 45 shirt has been retired by the University of Michigan.

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46: BO OUTLAW

A hard-hitting defender with a tremendous physique, Outlaw played for the Clippers, Magic, Suns and Grizzlies. Another number where there wasn't too much to choose from...

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47: ANDREI KIRILENKO

Given he's Russian, his initials are AK and his number was 47, his nickname 'AK47' was a bit of a no-brainer. In his time with the Utah Jazz, he was a constant source of quintuple fives: at least five points, five rebounds, five assists, five blocks and five steals in a single game.

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50: DAVID ROBINSON

Given only two players have worn 48 and 49, we've opted to skip those numbers and head straight to David Robinson at 50. He formed a lethal partnership with Tim Duncan as the San Antonio Spurs claimed the NBA championship in 1999 and 2003. Robinson was also a two-time Olympic gold-medallist with the USA, in 1992 and 1996.

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50 / 50