Number Retirements: Who’s Next? Atlantic Division

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Vince Carter

Welcome to part 3 of the number retirements series here at Basketball Society.

  • To check out part 1 with the Southeast Division click here.
  • To check out part 2 with the Northwest Division click here.

Today I will be going over each team in the Atlantic Division and who could possibly have their number retired next. 

Boston CelticsPaul PierceRetired numbers:

  • 00, Robert Parish
  • 1, Walter A. Brown
  • 2, Red Auerbach
  • 3, Dennis Johnson
  • 6, Bill Russell
  • 10, Jo Jo White
  • 14, Bob Cousy
  • 15, Tom Heinsohn
  • 16, Satch Sanders
  • 17, John Havlicek
  • 18, Dave Cowens
  • 19, Don Nelson
  • 21, Bill Sharman
  • 22, Ed Macauley
  • 23, Frank Ramsey
  • 24, Sam Jones
  • 25, K.C. Jones
  • 31, Cedric Maxwell
  • 32, Kevin McHale
  • 33, Larry Bird
  • 35, Reggie Lewis
  • LOSCY, Jim Loscutoff
  • Microphone, Johnny Most

The Boston Celtics have the most retired numbers in the NBA. It shows from the list above that they have had one of the more successful NBA franchises. Every player listed above has made a huge impact on the court from the days of Bill Russell and Bob Cousy to Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish. It is interesting to see how much history is behind each of these numbers. Note that Jim Loscutoff did wear number 18 with the team, but asked that 18 still be used so other players can wear it, leading to just a banner with “LOSCY” as a honor. 18 however was later retired by Dave Cowens. 

I said this for the Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves — there is only one clear guy to be next in line, and for the Celtics it is Paul Pierce (no. 34). Pierce was drafted by the team in 1998 and spent 15 years with Boston. He went through the ups and downs with the franchise including winning the 2008 NBA Finals and was named the MVP. He was still the face of the franchise when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen came to town, so I think his number will be retired immediately after he retires. Some could argue with Kevin Garnett (no. 5) as he made an impact with the team from the first day he got to Boston. Overall, I could very well see Boston eventually having three digits on the jerseys with the amount of numbers that are retired for them.  

Brooklyn/New Jersey Netslx5162vxqxtojv0efmujRetired numbers:

  • 3, Drazen Petrovic
  • 5, Jason Kidd
  • 23, John Williamson
  • 25, Bill Melchionni
  • 32, Julius Erving
  • 52, Buck Williams

Drazen Petrovic was only on the team for a short time but made an impact. He brought the struggling Nets team to the playoffs and was a high-volume scorer. Unfortunately, after his career-year averaging 22.3 points, he was killed in a car accident in Germany. It is nice to see the franchise honor Petrovic during his stint with the team and it shows that he made a big impact in his short time. Jason Kidd is arguably one of the best players in the franchise’s history. He brought the team to two straight NBA Finals and was named to multiple All-Star teams, All-NBA teams, and All-NBA Defensive teams. John Williamson and Bill Melchionni helped the Nets win two titles during their time in the ABA. Before his days in the NBA and Philadelphia, Dr. J made a name for himself in the ABA helping the Nets win two ABA titles. Buck Williams is the Nets all-time leading scorer and rarely missed a game averaging a double-double. 

Vince Carter (no. 15) is a name I can see being mentioned here. We all know what he did in Toronto, but with New Jersey he did just as well. He is a multiple time All-Star and averaged 20 points during his time with New Jersey and currently the franchise’s second all-time leading scorer. Derrick Coleman (no. 44), a former no. 1 overall pick with the team, averaged a double-double with the Nets. Kenyon Martin (no. 6) and Richard Jefferson (no.24) are other names I would mention because of their roles with the team during the back-to-back Finals run in the early 2000’s. 

New York Knicks knicks mark jackson 13 blue jerseyRetired numbers:

  • 10, Walt Frazier
  • 12, Dick Barnett
  • 15, Earl Monroe & Dick McGuire
  • 19, Willis Reed
  • 22, Dave DeBusschere
  • 24, Bill Bradley
  • 33, Patrick Ewing
  • 613, Red Holzman

Walt Frazier is currently the Knicks color commentator, but during his playing days he held his own. He helped win the Knicks their only championships and is considered one of the franchise’s best players. Dick Barnett was also on the team that won two championships. Earl “The Pearl” Monroe was a multiple time All-Star and won a championship in 1973. Six years after New York retired Monroe’s number, the team also decided to retire 15 again for Dick McGuire. McGuire was a multiple time All-Star and one of the original member of the Knickerbockers. Willis Reed only played 10 seasons but made an impact, winning both championship titles and being named the MVP for both. He was also the league MVP in 1970 and multiple time All-Star. Dave DeBusschere was a two-time champion and made multiple All-Star appearances as a defensive stopper, being selected to an All-NBA Defensive team six times. Bill Bradley was also on the team to win both of the only franchise titles and was a one-time All-Star. Patrick Ewing next to Frazier could arguably be the best Knicks player of all time. Despite never winning a championship, Ewing was dominant and fun to watch. He holds majority of the franchise records in points, rebounds, steals, blocks and minutes to name a few. 613 is an honor towards Red Holzman, who won 613 games as the head coach for the Knicks, winning two championships.

There are a couple of guys I could see here. I’ll start with Mark Jackson (no. 13). Jackson grew up in the area and played college ball at St. John’s so he was a local favorite with the fans. During his first four years with New York he won Rookie of the Year and earned an All-Star selection. He is currently ranked 4th in career assists with 10,334. Another name I will mention is the late Anthony Mason  (no. 14). Mason played the majority of his career in New York, mainly coming off the bench during his time there. How about Bernard King (no. 30)? King was a scoring machine during his time in New York, winning the scoring title as well as making multiple All-Star appearances. Some other names I’ll throw out there are Charles Oakley (no. 34), Allan Houston (no. 20) or even another fan-favorite in John Starks (no. 3). Overall, I really do think that there is a wide open debate here on who could be next to have their number retired for the Knicks.

Philadelphia 76ersmoses_sixersRetired numbers:

  • 3, Allen Iverson
  • 6, Julius Erving
  • 10, Maurice Cheeks
  • 13, Wilt Chamberlain
  • 15, Hal Greer
  • 24, Bobby Jones
  • 32, Billy Cunningham
  • 34, Charles Barkley
  • Microphone, Dave Zinkoff

The Sixers have had their fair share of past stars and key contributors. The most notable is Allen Iverson, who won MVP in 2001 while on the 76ers and became a basketball icon. Julius Erving was another icon during his time, winning MVP honors and a title to the city, not to mention his dunks that left fans in amazement. Maurice Cheeks was a defensive stopper for the 1983 championship team. Wilt Chamberlain was only on the team for three seasons but made an immediate impact winning the championship in 1967. Hal Greer was a scoring machine for the during the 1967 championship, averaging 22 points during their playoff run. Bobby Jones was a fan-favorite, winning the first ever Sixth Man of the Year award. He did just about everything for the team that sometimes did not show up in the box score, like diving for loose balls and setting up screens to free other players, which makes him one the best role players in my opinion. Billy Cunningham spent his entire NBA career with the 76ers, averaging a double-double during his span, earning multiple All-Star appearances, All-NBA selections and an NBA championship. Barkley was very outspoken but was also a very dominant player. He was a multiple time All-Star and always competed night in and night out. Much like most teams, the microphone is an honor to Dave Zinkoff, who was a long time commentator for the 76ers and the Warriors when they were in Philadelphia.

Now, I think that Moses Malone (no. 2) is the next guy up to join this list. His number is not in circulation with the team anymore but it is not officially retired. I think that will change in the near future as he was one of the Sixers’ best players. He spent five seasons with the team, winning the MVP award twice and winning the title in 1983 against the Los Angeles Lakers. His famous line “fo fo fo” was stating that his team would sweep the entire 1983 playoffs without a lost. He has a 12-1 playoff record which was the best playoff run by any team until the Lakers went 15-1 in the 2001 playoffs. Malone was one of the best to play the game of basketball and it is only right to have his name hung up in the rafters.

 Toronto RaptorsPST0309-RAPTORS5Retired numbers:

  • None

The Toronto Raptors are one of the few NBA franchises to not have a single number retired. The franchise has only been around for 20 years so there have not been a lot of players compared to others in the division.

When you think about it, Vince Carter is the clear guy to to be the first Raptor to have his number retired. Carter during the time was the face of the franchise and is still a fan favorite to this day. He was a multiple time All-Star for the team and established himself as one of the best dunkers of all time after dominating in the 2000 dunk contest. Another name I am throwing out there is Chris Bosh (no. 4) who was drafted by the team and was the cornerstone for them for quite some time between the mid to late 2000s. How about Damon “Mighty Mouse” Stoudemire (no.20)? Mighty Mouse was the Raptors’ first ever draft pick who arguably also had one of the best rookie seasons to date, averaging 19.0 points and 9.3 assists per game. All three of these guys are the top choices in my opinion. I could see arguments being made for Tracy McGrady (no. 1) or even Kyle Lowry (no. 7) if he continues to play the way he does.

What do you guys think? Anybody I should have mentioned or not mentioned? Let us know @BBallSociety_ & @FonzyDeFalco

Stay tuned as I talk about teams in the Southwest Division next.

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