Now the jersey retirement ceremony in the NBA is a sacred event, where teams pay their final respects to great players. But in fact, history has seen many interesting stories about jersey retirement, and even some superstar greats. Today, we have selected six jersey anecdotes to introduce to you one by one.
- Retired twice players
Oscar Robertson, No. 14, Cincinnati Royals, No. 1, Milwaukee Bucks.
Julius Erving, No. 6, Philadelphia 76ers, No. 32, New Jersey Nets
Usually, Hall of Famers don’t change their jersey numbers easily, but Robertson and Irving were forced to change their numbers midway through their careers. When he played for the Royals in the 1960s, Robertson wore number 14, but after moving to the Bucks in 1970, he had to choose a new number for himself because the team’s point guard, Jon McLaughlin, also wore number 14, the second time their numbers collided as teammates. They also played together for the Royals in the 1960s, when McLaughlin, who had given in, chose the number 11 jersey.
“Dr. J” wore No. 32 with the Nets to create a legacy, before switching to No. 6 after he moved to Philadelphia in 1976. Because this number has been hanging high over the dome as a token in memory of Billy Cunningham.
- No one retiredduring 35 years
0, Los Angeles Speedboats
How do you describe a team like the Los Angeles Swiftboats that never seems to turn around? Looking at the eight years in Buffalo, the six years in San Diego, and the 30 years in Los Angeles, the word “blah” seems to be the best way to describe them. But this season they are finally going to turn around, Leonard, George, Lowe, Harrell plus Rivers, the overall combination of the Clippers have the strength to compete for the title. As for when their first retired number will be born, we can only continue to wait patiently again.
- Fans also retired
Sacramento Kings, No. 6, 1986
In the second year since the Kings moved from Kansas City to Sacramento, the club held a special ceremony to retire the number 6 jersey for the fans who have always supported them. The number “6” was chosen because it compared the fans to the team’s best sixth man, the key player who has always inspired the team to win. Later, the Charlotte Hornets followed the Kings’ example and held a similar fan jersey retirement ceremony.
New Orleans Hornets, Pete Maravich, No. 7, Oct. 20, 2002
The reason the Hornets retired Maravich’s No. 7 jersey before the start of the 2002-03 season, the first season after they moved to their new home, was because of the stellar record Maravich had produced during his early playing days in New Orleans, only he was playing for a different team: the New Orleans Jazz. The pistol led the team in scoring for four of the five years before the Jazz moved to Utah in 1979. Not only that, but Maravich also set an NCAA tournament scoring record of 44.2 points per game during his four years playing at LSU.
- Three-digit numbers
No. 613, Ryder Holtzman, New York Knicks, March 10, 1990
When teams decide to have a jersey retirement ceremony for a coach, they usually have to envision it a little more creatively. New York chose jersey number 613 for Coach Holtzman because the number represents the total number of regular season wins he achieved while coaching the Knicks. Coach Holtzman is not only the coach who has won more games than any other coach who has ever coached New York, but most importantly, he has also led this team to hoist the championship trophy twice in 1970 and 1973 respectively.
- God’s two-color jersey
Miami Heat, Michael Jordan, No. 23, April 11, 2003
When the Heat decided to hold a jersey retirement ceremony for Michael Jordan, many people were deeply puzzled by their bizarre move. It was the first jersey retirement event in the Heat’s history, and it was for an opponent who had beaten them repeatedly on the court. The colors of the retired jersey are half the traditional red of the Chicago Bulls and half the usual blue of the Washington Wizards. It was hung high over American Airlines Arena before Jordan’s final game in Miami on April 11, 2003.
Here’s how Heat coach Pat Riley made his proclamation: “We are honoring Mr. Michael Jordan for his tremendous contributions to basketball, not just to the NBA, but to basketball around the world. Loving him is our common gospel. Therefore, we decided to hang his No. 23 jersey high in the sky on this night. From this day forward, no one else on the Heat will ever wear No. 23 on the court for a game. You’ll always be the best.” After his speech, Jordan came up to the stage and embraced Riley and waved frequently to the audience. After the jersey retirement ceremony, Jordan led the Wizards to a 91-87 victory over the latter.