Latest News, NBA / Mar 31, 2011 / 11:30 am

From The Rafters: The NBA’s Definitive Retired Jersey List

Dennis RodmanFor the athlete, there are very few awards that can compare to getting your number retired. It’s the ultimate sign of respect. Tomorrow, in what will surely be one of the greatest number-retiring ceremonies ever, the Detroit Pistons will retire Dennis Rodman‘s No. 10. Greg Monroe will continue to wear the number, but that’s beyond my care. I just want to see what the Worm does. With that in mind, I dug into some stats. We’ve done comprehensive lists like this before, most recently with the NBA’s Richest Players and the NBA’s Top 15 Expiring Contracts.

Now check out the stats on the NBA’s retired numbers:

Numbers That Have Been Retired The Most:

Nine Times

#32: Kevin McHale (BOS), Magic Johnson (LAL), Brian Winters (MIL), Julius Erving (NJ), Billy Cunningham (PHI), Bill Walton (POR), Sean Elliott (SAS), Fred Brown (SEA), Karl Malone (UTA)

Eight Times

#10: Jo Jo White (BOS), Bob Love (CHI), Dennis Rodman (DET), Tim Hardaway (MIA), Walt Frazier (NYK), Maurice Cheeks (PHI), Nate McMillan (SEA), Earl Monroe (WAS: then in BAL)

#22: Ed Macauley (BOS), Larry Nance (CLE), Rolando Blackman (DAL), Clyde Drexler (twice: POR, HOU), Elgin Baylor (LAL), Slater Martin (LAL: then in MIN), Dave DeBusschere (NYK)

#33: Larry Bird (BOS), Scottie Pippen (CHI), David Thompson (DEN), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (twice: LAL, MIL), Alonzo Mourning (MIA), Patrick Ewing (NYK), Alvan Adams (PHO)

Seven Times

#2: Red Auerbach (BOS), Alex English (DEN), Chuck Daly (DET), Junior Bridgeman (MIL), Malik Sealy (MIN), Moses Malone (PHI), Mitch Richmond (SAC)

#15: Tom Heinsohn (BOS), Brad Davis (DAL), Vinnie Johnson (DET), Earl Monroe (NYK), Dick McGuire (NYK), Hal Greer (PHI), Larry Steele (POR)

#24: Sam Jones (BOS), Rick Barry (GS), Moses Malone (HOU), Bill Bradley (NYK), Bobby Jones (PHI), Tom Chambers (PHO), Spencer Haywood (SEA)

Six Times

#1: Walter A. Brown (BOS), Oscar Robertson (MIL), Larry Weinberg (POR), Nate Archibald (SAC), Gus Williams (SEA), Frank Layden (UTA)

#4: Jerry Sloan (CHI), Joe Dumars (DET), Sidney Moncrief (MIL), Wendell Ladner (NJ), Chris Webber (SAC), Adrian Dantley (UTA)

#13: Wilt Chamberlain (three times: GS, LAL, PHI), Bobby Phills (NOH), Dave Twardzik (POR), James Silas (SAS)

#14: Bob Cousy (BOS), Tom Meschery (GS), Jon McGlocklin (MIL), Lionel Hollins (POR), Oscar Robertson (SAC), Jeff Hornacek (UTA)

#23: Lou Hudson (ATL), Frank Ramsey (BOS), Michael Jordan (twice: CHI, MIA), Calvin Murphy (HOU), John Williamson (NJ)

Oddest Retired Numbers/People:

Microphone: Rod Hundley (UTA), Bob Blackburn (SEA), Dave Zinkoff (PHI), Chick Hearn (LAL), Johnny Most (BOS)

LOSCY: Jim Loscutoff (BOS)- wanted other players to wear his #18

77: coach Jack Ramsay- represents the 1977 Portland championship

- Joe Proski- trainer for the Phoenix Suns

832: Cotton Fitzsimmons (PHO)- number of wins as an NBA coach

613: Red Holzman (NYK)- number of wins as an NBA coach

- John Kundla- head coach of Minneapolis Lakers

529: Bobby Leonard- his wins as the Indiana Pacers head coach

CD: Carroll Dawson- assistant coach and GM in Houston

- Jack McCloskey- GM of the Detroit Pistons

- William Davidson- owner of the Detroit Pistons

432: Doug Moe- his wins as the Denver Nuggets head coach

- Jerry Krause- GM of the Chicago Bulls

- Phil Jackson- head coach of the Chicago Bulls

6: for the fans of the Orlando Magic and the fans of the Sacramento Kings

Teams With The Most Retired Jerseys:

Boston: 23*

L.A. Lakers: 14

Phoenix: 11

Portland: 11

Sacramento: 10

Detroit: 10

Teams With Zero Retired Jerseys:

Charlotte, L.A. Clippers, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Toronto

Which Decade Had the Most Players Who Went on to Have Their Jersey Numbers Retired? (if applicable, most players were kept to their best decade):

1950s: 16 players

1960s: 28 players

1970s: 62 players

1980s: 44 players

1990s: 31 players

2000s: 3 players

Retired numbers broken down by position:

69 guards (29 PG, 40 SG)

55 forwards (25 PF, 30 SF)

35 centers

*Boston has 21 retired numbers in 65 years of existence. If they keep up this pace (retiring a number every 3.1 years), they will run out of numbers (#00-99) in 2259.

What can you take away?

  • The wing players are either more celebrated (wings account for 70 retired numbers themselves), more showcased as players or the NBA just has a history of better players at those positions.
  • If you want your jersey retired, don’t choose a number over 33.
  • The 1970s has by far the players with the most retired numbers, and are the perfect mix, combining the talent of later decades with the history of the earlier decades.
  • You could create a couple of unbelievable starting lineups from some of the most retired numbers: (#32: Magic Johnson, Julius Erving, Karl Malone, Kevin McHale, Bill Walton), (#33: Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, David Thompson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Patrick Ewing)
  • The NFL has 138 retired jersey numbers. MLB has 164 retired jersey numbers. The NBA has 184 retired jersey numbers.

Which current players will have their jersey numbers retired?

Follow Sean on Twitter at @SEANesweeney.

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  • yoda

    why is jordan retired in mia?
    and game between 32’s and 33’s would be awesome. and they would probably win few championships these days

  • King

    KG ( 5 and 21) pierce, ray Allen ( 34 maybe 20 too )
    , Duncan, Kobe, shaq (34), Kidd (5), rondo( def. if he finishes with the C’s) too many to kist them all

  • 1-2

    Does kobe get retired with the number 8 or 24

  • TL

    What number do you retire Kobe as? Has there ever been a player that has had 2 numbers retired for the same team in any sports?

  • Lee

    I guess AI’s number will be retired soon, and where does shaq get his number retired ?? Do LA retire it now he’s played for Boston ??

  • s.bucketz

    lol @ the retard sayin rondo’s numbers gettin retired..that would be even more questionable than jordans in mia..he had jack shit to do wit the ship and they aint gettin any more so yea…ur dumb

  • Alex “Robocop” Murphy

    once Jordan retired for like the 3rd time, Pat Riley honored him by saying that no one ever be great enough to wear 23 again and retired his jersey in MIA. Funny coincidentally James went to file a number change (#6) before he signed with Miami.

  • yoda

    ah thanks alex

  • Ses

    @ Alex “Robocop” Murphy

    Thats because its not a coincidence!

  • http://getyourishbusted.net Chicagorilla

    how is it possible the NBA has more retired #’s than Baseball and Football? That needs to be looked into more.

    Clearly the NBA has a hard time distinguishing the difference between a good player and a great player. These Mfers retire anyones number just to have it hanging in the rafters. Malik Sealy was a good player, and it was tragic how he died, but he didnt deserve to have his number retired. There are several Boston celtics who not only didn’t deserve to have their number retired, but dont belong in the HOF either.

    Just a few post above, someone mentions KG and Ray Allen getting their #5 and #20 numbers retired. For what?!?!?! all of the ONE chips they won? KG has been mediocre as a player in Bos, and Ray has been a shell of his former self. That doesn’t mean they sucked, but it sure as hell doesn’t mean celebrating them by retiring numbers.

  • derik

    Shawn Bradley’s 76

  • clarence boddicker

    “dead or alive you’re coming with me.”

  • Rainman

    Steve Nash’s jersey in Phoenix.

    Anyone who thinks otherwise doesnt know basketball.

  • srb

    Pierce Duncan Kobe Dirk – maybe iverson, Dwight Howard if he sticks around Orlando (or dominates somewhere else as well).

    They should retire Garnett in minnesota, and Lebron will probably get it eventually in Miami. Manu and Tony Parker?

    Who am I missing?

  • ScoGo

    Jordan came back from his first retirement (remember the baseball stint with the White Sox farm team?) draped in a #45 jersey (the same number he wore in baseball).

    Too many teams and by association, The Association, have retired numbers to get a little publicity. Really? Retiring numbers for guys who passed too early (RIP Malik) and never passed to a member of your team (The GOAT & The Heat) is a gratuitous publicity stunt. If you have to retire #6 for the sixth man award to your fans, that’s basically admitting that you can’t draft and chose not to spend in free agency, so you have a lousy team.

    Rodman was a freaky good player with a reported sky high basketball I.Q. But if I remember correctly, The Worm didn’t even start on those Bad Boys championship year teams in Motown.

  • Celts Fan

    @Scogo – the worm is one of the best rebounders/defenders in the history of the league and has 5 rings to show for it. Not only should his # be retired in Detroit, but he belongs in the Hall too.

  • Butcher with 4 prostitutes

    @ ScoGo

    Man, what u r talkin about? Rodman was the hell out of player in those Bad Boys teams. He was DPOTY, best rebounder in the league (with an average over 18 boards per game!), needless to say – he was the real people’s champ back in the day. Actually, I am really surprised that Pistons decided to retire his number so late.

  • Mo

    Rodman did start with the Pistons. That was part of the issue that got Adrian Dantley traded away was to get more minutes for the Worm. But he did start and he does deserve his number retired. He excelled at doing something a lot of people in the league don’t put a lot of stock in nowadays…rebounding and defense and made a living primarily from doing just that. Who else in the league is there just because of their defense now other than Ben Wallace? And he’s a shell of his former self and didn’t do it over a sustained period of time like Rodman did.

  • bigger_dady

    SO if Sacramento moves to Anaheim do they also retire the #6 jersey there???