Behind to entering the Hall of the Fame, having your jersey number retired to any NBA team is a great accomplishment. What I personally find interesting about some numbers teams retire are some are not even for a player. For example, the Portland Trail Blazers have the number 77 retired in honor of the team’s 1977 NBA Finals win. This past week, it was announced that the Atlanta Hawks will retire Dikembe Mutombo’s no. 55 on November 24th in a game against the Boston Celtics. Recently seeing this had me thinking, which number will a team retire next? Let’s take a look at some possibilities for each of the teams starting with the Southeast Division.
- 9, Bob Pettit
- 21, Dominique Wilkins
- 23, Lou Hudson
- 40, Jason Collier *not officially retired, but not in use
- 55, Dikembe Mutombo *November 24th
The Atlanta Hawks have been around for a while and have always been a consistent playoff team. They own an active 8 consecutive playoff appearance streak. While they usually appear in the playoffs, they have never been able to make that deep of a run, unless you count this past season when they reached the Conference Finals. Each player listed above was dominant for that Hawks team in certain eras. Bob Pettit led the team to their only championship in 1958. Dominique Wilkins was a freak athlete who led the Hawks to four consecutive 50-win seasons during the late 80’s. Lou Hudson was a great scorer during the late 60’s and 70’s. Jason Collier passed away during his time with Atlanta so his number is not in use but not officially retired. Finally, Dikembe Mutombo was one of the best shock blockers in the game, winning the Defensive Player of the Year award three times during his tenure with the Hawks.
As far as who would be next, since Mutombo is technically the next guy up, it could be a while until we see someone else receiving this honor. Maybe a guy during the during the mid 2000s with Joe Johnson (#2) or maybe even current basketball analyst Steve Smith (#8)
Current retired numbers.
- 13, Bobby Phills
Bobby Phills was killed in an automobile accident in Charlotte thus leading to his number 13 being retired. When the franchise moved to New Orleans, the number followed along. Now that New Orleans is now the Pelicans and the Hornets returned to Charlotte, the #13 is hanging at Time Warner Cable Arena.
A couple of players come in mind as to who could be next. Larry Johnson (number 2) was the face of the franchise in the beginning of the Hornets era. Pair him up with Alonzo Mourning (number 32) and they made a deadly 1-2 punch. Muggsy Bogues (number 1) was always a fan favorite in Charolette and still is today so I would not be surprised if he was the next guy in for the Hornets to have his number retired. I really can not see any players during the Bobcats era to be up there, but if anyone, Gerald Wallace (number 3) who was the best player on the Bobcats, earned his nickname “Crash” for his play style.
- 10, Tim Hardaway
- 23, Michael Jordan*
- 33, Alonzo Mourning
Tim Hardaway was dominate with the Warriors in their “Run-TMC” era, but was also pretty good in his years with Miami. He earned multiple All-Star appearances as well as his All-NBA Team awards. Alonzo “Zo” Mourning was dominate on the defensive end during his early years with the team and helped win the franchises first title in 2006 during his second stint with the team. What I did not know was that Pat Riley retired Jordan signature number 23 during his last game against Miami in 2003 despite never playing for them.
I think the obvious choice here for next man up in the rafters is Dwayne Wade. He has been the face of the Miami Heat since being drafted in 2003. Even when LeBron James and Chris Bosh played in Miami, they knew it was Wade’s team. I would not be surprised if they ended up retiring the number immediately after his career is over.
There are three other names I would like to mention. LeBron James (#6), Shaquille O’Neal (#32), and Chris Bosh (#1). LeBron might of only played for Miami for four seasons, but he appeared in the Finals in all four years and won two. Shaq, like LeBron, was not on the team for a long portion for his career, but did help Wade win the franchises first title. Chris Bosh was the third member of the “Big 3” era (LeBron and Wade the first two). While he was vital for the Heat’s back-to-back Finals wins, and decided to return to the Heat with a long-term deal. If Bosh can lead the Heat back to their winning ways, he could be next.
- 6, Fans “The Sixth Man”
It is very cool to see that the Magic dedicated a number to the fans. In the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks retired the #12 for their crazy fan base. It became unretired when Patrick Ewing was in his final quest to win a title. After that year, it was re-retired.
For next to be retired, I think most people agree that it will be Dwight Howard’s number 12 first in line. Despite how it ended with the whole “Dwight-mare” scenario, no one can deny that he was a force while he was wearing a Magic uniform, not to mention that he was arguably the best center in the NBA during that time. He earned multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards, All-Star appearances, the Magic’s all time leading scorer, and a Finals appearance in his time in Orlando will definitely help his cause. It may be a while. He is still in the league and at age 29 with a lot left in him in the NBA.
Another name to definitely mention is Shaquille O’Neal (#32). We all know what he did in Los Angeles, but what he did with Orlando in his first 4-years in the league was pretty impressive. Shaq took an expansion Orlando Magic franchise and made them a Eastern Conference threat in his four years with the team.
Overall, both these players had great tenures with the team, but how they both exited the Magic will always be in question when it comes to having their numbers retired.
Current retired numbers
- 10, Earl Monroe
- 11, Elvin Hayes
- 25, Gus Johnson
- 41, Wes Unseld
The Washington Wizards have been around for a while, but haven’t always been the Washington Wizards. From the Chicago Packers, Zephyrs, Baltimore Bullets, Washington Bullets, to now Wizards have produced some pretty decent players. Earl Monroe was a nightly scoring threat in the late 60’s, Elvin Hayes was a double-double machine in the 70’s, Gus Johnson was a defensive powerhouse, and Wes Unseld was arguably the best player in the franchises history.
Next is Gilbert Arenas (number 0) without question, but with his checkered past that caused him to leave Washington will always be questioned. But take away the gun charges and falling out with the team, “Agent Zero” was dominate and always fun to watch. One thing I like about him is his connection with everyday people. He really loved playing in front of fans and seeing one of his Instagram post was inspiring to see.
Winning rings and awards is great….but sharing a piece of that journey with the ppl that root for u is AMAZING…..I stand ALONE in the most game worn jerseys giving away and also signed in NBA history….Ive played in over 500 NBA games and don’t have 1 of my own game worn jersey’s #peopleschamp..for all the future professionals always remember this “u never know who’s who” take the time too shake,take a pic,get on the phone and say hello or a happy birthday to a fan…the 30 seconds out of ur day could be a LIFE time memory for them#happysaturday
Like him or not, you got to respect the way he was with fans. As stated before, his legal troubles could definitely affect his legacy. Another name I’d throw out there is Walt Bellamy. Bellamy may have had one of the best rookie seasons in NBA history averaging 31.6 points and 19.0 rebounds per game. He only played for the then Packers, Zephyrs and Bullets during his career.
I know most of your are thinking current Wizards star John Wall. I do think Wall is one of the top point guards in the league today, it is still too early in his career to solidify him as a candidate for a number retirement.
Overall, having your number retired is an honor. It shows appreciation for what the player did during his time with the team and even what the team as a whole did.
Tune in next week as I talk about players from teams in the Northwest Division.