Number Retirements: Who’s Next? Northwest Division

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For my last post on the Southwest Division, check here.

When I heard of the Atlanta Hawks retiring Dikembe Mutombo’s number it got me thinking. Who could possibly have their number hung up in the rafters next for their respective teams? A week ago, I talked about whose number will be retired next with teams in the Southwest Division. Today I will be going over teams in the Northwest Division. Let’s begin.

Denver NuggetsAE10112-2 Retired numbers:

  • 2, Alex English
  • 33, David Thompson
  • 40, Byron Beck
  • 44, Dan Issel
  • 432, Doug Moe

For those that don’t know Alex English was a scoring nightmare during the 1980’s. He earned multiple All-Star apperances and All-NBA Team honors, as well as winning the scoring title in 1983. He is currently the Denver Nuggets all time leading scorer so it makes sense for him to be up on this list. David Thompson won awards with the Nuggets when they were in the ABA and the NBA. During there early ABA days, Byron Beck was known for his great rebounding skills. Dan Issel was the guy that led Denver to there ABA title, allowing them to join the NBA. The number 432 represents the number of victories Coach Doug Moe had, which is still the most by one coach in franchise history.

Notice how every number mentioned about was from there days as an ABA and early in the NBA with English and Moe. They had eras with good players but also times of struggle. There is no guy I think that jumps out and says IT HAS TO BE RETIRED. There are a couple of guys I can throw out there, like Dikembe Mutombo, who started off his great career with the Nuggets solidifying himself as a shot-blocking machine and fan favorite with the finger wag. But since the Hawks will retire it this year we might have to wait awhile to see that or maybe not at all depending on what you the fans think of this. Carmelo Anthony could be in the conversation as he was fun to watch when he was in Denver (Knicks fan talking here and I still think he is a great player but that is a story for another time). Much like Dwight Howard, the way Melo left the team with demanding a trade to a bigger market may affect his chances and leaving some wonder what he could of been in Denver. I wrote something a while on that for “What If Wednesday” about the whole Carmelo Anthony trade which you can see here.

Minnesota Timberwolvesnba_g_garnett1x_576x324Retired numbers:

  • 2, Malik Sealy

Malik Sealy was bound to to do great things teaming up with Kevin Garnett in the Twin City but after his first year with the team he was tragically killed by a drunk driver with Garnett in the car with Sealy. It is sad to see what happened to a promising player but seeing his name and number hanging at the Target Center shows that his legacy will live on with the franchise.

I think we all know who would be next to join him. Kevin Garnett. Need I say more, he’s the Timberwolves all time leading scorer, has multiple All-Star appearances, All-NBA teams, All-Defensive teams and an MVP title. Need I say more? KG brought the T’Wolves to a playoff team nearly making the Finals. Now since being brought back this past season he looks to be a mentor to young players like Andrew Wiggins and recent draftee Karl-Anthony Towns. Just like when I said with Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat, I would not be surprised if the retire KG’s no. 21 as soon as he finishes his playing career.

Oklahoma City Thunder/Seattle SuperSonics

gary-payton img24550521

Retired numbers:

  • 1, Gus Williams
  • 10, Nate McMillan
  • 19, Lenny Wilkins
  • 24, Spencer Haywood
  • 32, Fred Brown
  • 43, Jack Sikma
  • Microphone, Bob Blackburn

Seems like yesterday that Seattle relocated to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. Before their Thunder days, the Sonics had some very talented players wearing green and yellow. Gus Williams led the team to their only championship. Nate McMillan never had huge statistical numbers, but was known for his balance play recording four career triple-doubles in his 12 playing seasons and being called “Mr. Sonic.” Lenny Wilkins only played for four seasons with the team but had an interesting career. While he was playing, he also coached, being named an All-Star three of the four season he was a player-coach. After he decided to become a full time coach, ultimately coaching the team to it’s lone franchise title in 1979. Haywood was a multiple time All-Star for the Sonics in his short time in Seattle. Fred Brown spent his entire career with Seattle, winning the title. Jack Sikma was a multiple time All-Star and defense powerhouse with the team in the late 70s till mid 80s. The Microphone is an honor to Bob Blackburn, the Sonics original play by play announcer for close to 60 years, including calling the teams title in 79.

Now this is interesting to talk about. Most fans and people from Seattle would like the franchise back. There was talks about the Kings relocating, but with new owners and stadium proposal, it seems unlikely. That being said there is still some good players from both the Sonics and Thunder era that are possibly candidates for number retirements. 

Let’s start with the Sonics. Gary Payton, no. 20, is an obvious choice here. The Glove started a trend with perimeter defending guards and was always a nightmare to go up against. Another Sonics player I would mention is Shawn Kemp (no. 40). Kemp was a multiple time All-Star and was a human highlight reel with his amazing dunks that got people off their seats. Both 20 & 40 should be heavily considered, depending on what happens if Seattle ever gets an NBA franchise back.

Now let’s dive into the Thunder era. Although he did spend his rookie year on the Sonics, one of my favorite jerseys that I own, his accomplishments have been with OKC. Scoring titles, All-Star appearances, All NBA Team, an MVP and a trip to the Finals. He has accomplished a lot in his young career and he has also left in him in the NBA. There is uncertainty on where he will be next year, but I do think when it is all set and done Durant’s 35 will be hanging up. Russell Westbrook (no. 0) is another name I’d throw out there. He was the final selection for the Sonics before relocating to Oklahoma City. The 1-2 punch of him and Durant is a great combo and always fun to watch. Much like Durant, his free agent status to up in the air but he definitely in the conversation when his career is over on if his number will be retired.  One more name I throw out is Serge Ibaka (no. 9). He is a great shot blocker and while he may not get as much recognition in the league as he should he is a fan favorite and I could see his name definitely be in the conversation when it is all set and done.

Portland Trail Blazersnba_g_roy2_576Retired numbers:

  • 13, Dave Twardzik
  • 14, Lionel Hollins
  • 15, Larry Steele
  • 20, Maurice Lucas
  • 22, Clyde Drexler
  • 30, Bob Gross & Terry Porter
  • 32, Bill Walton
  • 36, Lloyd Neal
  • 45, Geoff Petrie
  • 77, Jack Ramsay & the 1977 championship team
  • Microphone, Bill Schonely

Portland has had their fair share of outstanding franchise players. Dave Twardzik was starting point guard for the teams only championship win. Hollins was also of member of the 1977 championship being the teams main defensive guy. Larry Steele was also a member of the championship team leading them in steals during his entire career with the team. Maurice Lucas was a multiple time All-Star, All NBA Team, Defensive team selection as well as also winning the title in ’77. Clyde Drexler was the face of the franchise for many years during the 80’s and 90’s becoming the team’s all time leading scorer. Gross was the team’s starting small forward during there championship run & Terry Porter was a two time All-Star, as well as fan favorite in Portland. Bill Walton was the Finals MVP in 1977 and also the league MVP before having a series of constant foot injuries. Lloyd Neal was also a fan favorite with his hard work on the glass averaging a double double during the Blazers championship run. Geoff Petrie was a two time All-Star before ending his career early with a knee injury. Jack Ramsay was the head coach during the teams Championship win in 1977, leading to the retirement of 77. Bill Schonely was the team’s announcer for many years, leading the microphone to honor Schonley.

If you ask me who should be next in line, my opinion is Brandon Roy (no. 7). As most fans know, Roy had an impressive career early on from winning Rookie of the Year in 2007. Most Portland fans and regular fans wondered what could of been with Roy if was healthy. While in Portland, Roy brought a lot of memories putting RIP City back on the basketball map after a couple quiet years before his arrival. I do think most fans will agree that Roy should be honored with the other Portland greats. Other names that could be mentioned for the Blazers is long time member Cliff Robinson (no. 3) who has the record for most consecutive games played with 461, Rasheed Wallace (no. 30) who may have won a championship elsewhere but started off his great career in Rip City and instantly became popular in the league with his type of play. Maybe even LaMarcus Aldridge (no. 12), who like Roy, brought back basketball in the city of Portland. Although it might be a while with Alridge since he is still in the middle of his career, recently signing the San Antonio Spurs.

Utah Jazzjohn-stockton-karl-maloneRetired numbers:

  • 1, Franck Layden
  • 4, Adrian Dantley
  • 7, Pete Maravich
  • 9, Larry H. Miller
  • 12, John Stockton
  • 14, Jeff Hornacek
  • 32, Karl Malone
  • 35, Darrell Griffith
  • 53, Mark Eaton
  • 1223, Jerry Sloan
  • Microphone, “Hot” Rod Hundley

Frank Layden was responsible for moving the franchise to Utah leading to 1 being retired as a new start. Dantley was a multiple time All-Star and a nightly 20 point scorer with the team. “Pistol” Pete was a multiple time All-Star and All NBA selection with the Jazz when they were both in New Orleans and Utah. Larry Miller was a long time owner of the Jazz and his number 9 was his softball number which is interesting. John Stockton leads the NBA in assists and steals and brought the team in championship contention when he played. Jeff Hornacek was a 3-pt marksmen and was a key contributor when the Jazz were in the playoffs making a couple of Finals runs. Much like Stockton, Malone was the face of the franchise winning the league MVP award twice and becoming a force in the paint. Darrell Grittith spent his entire career with the Jazz with some years starting and some coming off as the teams sixth man. Mark Eaton was the anchor of the team’s defense with his outstanding rebound and dunking ability. 1,223 is not really a jersey number but it was to honor how many victories legendary coach Jerry Sloan had and much like teams mentioned before, the microphone is an honor of long time announcer Rod Hundley.

Now who’s next? Well to be honest much like the Nuggets I do not think there is a standout guy to be next in line on the rafters. With that being said I still can see some guy there or maybe just in the conversation. Let’s start with Matt Harpring (no. 15). Although he did join the Jazz in the later part of his NBA career those were his best. Playing alongside Malone and Stockton brought out his best basketball, averaging career highs across the board in his first year at Utah. Fans loved his smart play and intensity he brought every night. I’d throw out other names like Greg Ostertag (no. 00), Deron Williams (no. 8) or even Carlos Boozer (no. 5). Ostertag was drafted after Eaton retired and picked back up right where he left off and being the defensive anchor they needed to many two straight finals runs. For a while while he was in Utah, Williams was one considered one of the top point guards in the league however his falling out with the team and eventual trade may cause him to not see his name up with the other Jazz greats. Carlos Boozer provided a good combination with him and Williams. I can see the multiple time All-Star in consideration

What do you guys think? Who should be next in line? Let me know @FonzyDeFalco & @BBallSociety_ Stay tuned as I cover the Atlantic Division next.  

 

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