How NBA Players Got Their Jersey Numbers
Regardless of their reason, numbers become one of the primary things we associate with our favorite players. Some will build their entire brands around their number, causing it to become synonymous with their name.
Here we will discuss how numbers and chosen and highlight some of the most memorable stories about the league's most famous jersey numbers.
Role of Legendary Numbers
While most players will share their numbers with hundreds of other players throughout the league's history, the best have turned their numbers into their own.
Michael Jordan is the best example of this, as his name has become one of the first things people think of when they see the number 23. Larry Bird's number 33 has also established itself as one of the most recognizable in the game—an impressive achievement for a player who has been out of the league for decades.
Opportunity to Choose
NBA players are afforded a lot of freedom when choosing their jersey numbers. Though some are retired or restricted in honor of former players, the only one that is specifically outlawed is 69.
Each player can choose any available number from 0-99, regardless of their position.
What Criteria Do Players Use When Selecting a Jersey Number
Each player decides on their number for different reasons. Some are superstitious and have a lucky number they like to use, while others may choose one that symbolizes something special. Regardless of the reason, you be assured that no player selects a number without careful consideration. While changing your number is possible, it is not always beneficial.
While the NBA gives players a lot of freedom to choose, there have been times when they have stepped in to have a number changed.
There is no more famous (or infamous) example of this than Dennis Rodman's first year in Dallas. The controversial rebounder decided to choose the number 69. Though he pushed hard for it, the NBA ultimately decided the backlash was not worth allowing Rodman to sport the racy number.
Numbers with Special Meanings
While many players pick a number based on what they've used in the past, others prefer one that honors a special moment or person in their lives. This can include the birth date of a loved one, a number representing a challenge overcome, or even one to celebrate their own achievements.
This makes NBA uniform numbers even more unique, making retiring the legendary ones even more special.
While the majority select based on other factors, there have been plenty of notable stars who have chosen numbers for more personal reasons.
Why did Russell Westbrook choose "Number 0"?
Russell Westbrook adopted the number 0 when he was moved to the Houston Rockets. After spending the beginning of his career with Oklahoma City, the star chose number 0 to represent his new beginning with a new team.
He was quoted as saying, "It assists you to get the confidence back; that number might give him hope, since it shows that growth is possible in spite of setbacks and mistakes".
What motivated Dwayne Wayde to pick the ''Number 3''?
Dwyane Wade wore number 3 throughout his 15-year basketball career as one of the league's best guards. Wade chose the number 3 to honor the holy trinity, noting that he was a devout Christian.
Was there any idea behind Dwight Howard's choice to put on jersey number 12?
The legendary NBA big man has been known to wear the number 12 throughout his professional career. That includes his time in both Houston and Orlando. Howard chose the number in honor of Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. Howard said both greatly influenced his career and style of play.
Why did Ron Artest choose the ''Number 37''?
Unlike other NBA players who recognize league greats, Ron Artest adopted the number 37 for himself. The player formerly known as Meta World Peace grew up a huge fan of Michael Jackson. He chose the number 37 to represent the 37 weeks in which Thriller stayed atop the charts.
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While each player chooses a number for a different reason, it's clear that no number is chosen randomly. Whether it's a way of honoring a person or a moment, each player's jersey number carries a story behind it.