Who Are The Best Players By Jersey Number In NBA History?

At first glance, this is pretty great. It’s colorful, it’s neatly arranged, some of the big names are there, yada yada yada. By all accounts, Mitchell & Ness did a wonderful job putting it together. They deserve kudos for the hard work and, hang on, is that Kwame Brown at No. 38? Hold up just a damn minute. This just went from wonderful to terrible in a heartbeat.

And why is Metta World Peace on here four times? Am I taking crazy pills? Did Metta World Peace all of a sudden morph into the artist formerly known as Oscar Robertson? What is this nonsense?

Let’s take a closer look at this thing:

Everything looks fine and dandy until No. 11 and Karl Malone.

Here’s their explanation:

Malone wore No. 11 with the Los Angeles Lakers in the final season of his 18-year career. “The Mailman” enjoyed a fruitful career having been a 2x NBA MVP, 14x NBA All-Star, 2x NBA All-Star Game MVP, 11x All-NBA First Team selection, 3x NBA All-Defensive team selection, and finishing as the Utah Jazz’s all-time leading scorer.

What in the hell are you guys doing? Malone wore No. 11 for one goddamn year! Meanwhile, Isiah Thomas, probably the greatest little man of all-time, a 12-time All-Star, a Hall of Famer, a member of the top 50 players in NBA history, and nah, forget that guy. Let’s put in the dipsh*t who wore No. 11 for 42 games.

I don’t normally call for someone’s firing, but go ahead and give that guy his walking papers, Mitchell & Ness. Or make them watch film of Zeke carving up some of the best players in the game. Then, fast forward to Malone choking away every great opportunity for those Jazz teams. Then, for good measure, watch the Pistons destroy him in the 2004 NBA Finals.

But sure, let’s give him No. 11 because of this:

Some notes: First, there are 14 numbers that have never been worn in the NBA. Second, we decided that any player who ever wore the number was eligible to be the best at that number. For example, Karl Malone wore #32 in Utah for 18 seasons before he moved to Los Angeles to wear #11, so when picking #11 we considered The Mailman and his amazing career.

The Kwame Brown problem.

There are eight players in NBA history who wore No. 38. Only one of them was drafted first overall. Only one of them asked to not have the ball in his hands. Only one of them was ripped to shreds by a teammate in the media.