Players tend to get quite emotional when talking about their jersey numbers, as they can get emotionally attached to a particular number for no other reason than the fact that they’ve spent their entire career wearing it, while others have heartfelt stories behind their number selection.
Jersey numbers aren’t quite important when we talk about the impact that the guy has on the floor or the position he plays, and it’s nothing more than a mere symbol to represent them and distinguish them from their teammates.
Nonetheless, those jersey numbers are also one of the most important things in player’s minds when they get to a new place, wanting to carry their former number to someday find their shirt hanging high on the team’s facilities rafters.
Today, we’re going to let you know about some of the most shocking and weird stories about NBA players and their jersey numbers, so lay back and enjoy.
15. Anthony Davis #23
Anthony Davis has become one of the fan favorites since entering the league as the 1st overall pick coming out of Kentucky, developing as an elite two way big man that’s the missing piece in any Championship squad.
And, considering the fact that he wears number 23 and being a Chicago native, pretty much everybody would assume that he was paying respect to Michael Jordan, but actually, he wears that number in honor of his favorite player and now colleague, LeBron James.
14. Paul George #13
Paul George grew up as a diehard Los Angeles Lakers fan, and there’s a major possibility that the All-Star small forward actually suits up for the purple and gold franchise this upcoming season, carrying Kobe Bryant’s torch as he always wanted, and that’s why he decided to wear number 24 during the early years of his career.
Nonetheless, as you may know by now, George no longer goes by that number, as he thought PG-13 would be a very catchy nickname and decided to give it a try as a sign of a fresh start to go back stronger than ever.
13. Rajon Rondo #9
Rajon Rondo earned the right to be called an elite point guard during his Boston Celtics tenure, creating an amazing legacy alongside other Celtic glories like Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
But, his choice to wear number 9 after spending all his life as number 4 came as pretty much his only chance to wear a single digit jersey on a Boston team that had retired like 2 hundred numbers, so with just 8 and 9 available, Rajon decided to wear 9.
12. Kevin Garnett #21
Kevin Garnett made a couple of jersey number changes throughout his successful career, going from 21 during the early going in Minnesota, to wear number 5 when he took his talents to the Boston Celtics.
Afterwards, Garnett decided to go by number 2 when the Celtics’ front office traded him to the Brooklyn Nets, trying to pay respects to a former teammate and close friend, Malik Sealy, who wore number 2 in Minnesota and died in a car accident going back home from Garnett’s 34th birthday party.
11. Dirk Nowitzki #41
Dirk Nowitzki has left his fingerprint among international basketball as one of the most prolific scorers this game has ever seen, being a walking example of loyalty, hard work, and putting the team first always.
Nonetheless, nobody had that much faith in him in the early going, and that’s why his former teammate Robert Pack wasn’t willing to give him his number 14 jersey (Dirk’s number back home in Germany). After Pack refused to shoot for it, Dirk decided to give it a rest and just flip his numbers to go as 41 from then on.
10. Steve Nash #10
Steve Nash was one of the most important point guards in the Association back in the day, but when the Los Angeles Lakers decided to acquire him from the Phoenix Suns, they couldn’t offer him the 13 jersey because that number was already retired due to Wilt Chamberlain.
So, Nash being a huge soccer fan, decided it was time to pay respect to some of the best soccer players in the world like Zinedine Zidane and Lionel Messi, deciding to wear number 10 until the day he’d retire.
9. Gilbert Arenas #0
As you may remember, Gilbert Arenas had one of the most “interesting” personalities you’ll find on an NBA court, and being as loud, vocal and kind of a douchebag as he was, he decided that he was going to stick it to his doubters every time he set foot on an NBA hardwood.
Arenas decided to wear the number 0 shirt to make fun of the critics that stated that he was going to get 0 NBA minutes, including his former coach during college. You’ve got to admit it, that was clever.
8. Kevin Durant #35
If someone knows about emotions, that’s definitely Kevin Durant, a player that’s never been shy to show his feelings to the public and the media, and that’s even being called a cupcake due to his softness nowadays.
Still, Durant wasn’t soft at all when he decided to change his jersey number in honor to one of his AAU coaches, one of his biggest mentors and lone father figures, coach Charles Craig, murdered at the age of 35.
7. Dwyane Wade #3
The very first thing Dwyane Wade did when he won his second ring alongside LeBron James and Chris Bosh, was change his twitter header to “three”. Of course, he was making reference to the fact that he had won his third ring and also the third Championship in Miami Heat history.
Nevertheless, Wade’s jersey number goes far beyond that, as he’s a very religious guy and a committed christian, and his number 3 actually represents the holy trinity.
6. Russell Westbrook #0
Just like Gilbert Arenas, Russell Westbrook is an explosive point guard and vocal leader that wears number 0. Still, Westbrook and Arenas have vastly different personalities, and while one thought it was cool to just prove other wrongs, Westbrook chose a more profound path.
So, when asked about his jersey number selection, Russell stated that he was keen to find a new beginning back then in UCLA, so it was just better to start from scratch and go back to zero.
5. Chris Paul #3
Chris Paul is one of the best point guards to ever lace them up, constantly making the right play, being smart and cautious and always knowing what he has to do and where does he need to be in order to do so.
And, most of that great play of his depends on a combination of factors, as well as his jersey number does. See, Chris Paul decided to honor his father and brother, so he decided to combine his jersey numbers (1+2) to become CP3.
4. Metta World Peace #37
Metta World Peace has always been one of the most entertaining guys to follow in the NBA, even changing his name from Ron Artest to this one and later Panda Friend when he decided to move to China to play overseas.
Having said that, it’s not quite shocking to find him in this list with a crazy jersey number story, as the defensive standout decided to wear the number 37 jersey as soon as he joined the Los Angeles Lakers to play tribute to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson; who’s album “Thriller” had been number 1 for 37 weeks.
3. Damian Lillard #0
Damian Lillard is all about loyalty, and this talented point guard is never going to forget where he came from and where he wants to stay his entire career, and he makes sure to let everybody know that every time he plays.
See, Dame decided to wear number 0 to be used as the letter O, as he wanted to pay respects to his hometown in Oakland, his College in Ogden, Utah (Weber State University) and the city of Oregon, where the Blazers play.
2. Dennis Rodman #70
Just like some of other guys we’ve named on this list, Dennis Rodman has always been quite different, and his twisted sense of humor is something he’ll be remembered for ages, besides also being one of the most dominant defenders in the world.
When Rodman joined the Dallas Mavericks, he actually demanded to wear the 69 number, but commissioner David Stern rejected his request (and so far nobody has used that jersey number) and that’s why he wore number 70 instead. Classic Rodman.
1. Michael Jordan #23
Michael Jordan completely changed the meaning of number 23, and even David Beckham paid his tribute to MJ when he decided to wear that jersey in Real Madrid, as well as hundreds of ballers (including LeBron James), have done over the course of history.
Still, Jordan’s story is one of the most heartfelt, as he decided to wear that jersey to honor his brother Larry, who wore number 45 and kept beating him when they were growing up. Jordan thought that he could be half as good as his brother, so he wore number 23.
Today, no. 23 is the most famous number in sports history and every fan dreams to become half as good as Michael Jordan.