Jersey numbers may mean nothing for most people, but for athletes, that’s the kind of thing that represents them ever since their young and make it all the way to the NBA, so obviously there’s a huge emotional bond between a player and his number.
Either because that’s just the number they gave you, or because it has some kind of personal meaning or just because you want to honor a player who thrived before you, if you’re an athlete you know you’re kind of “married” to that number for the long run.
And people always tend to make associations between a number and a player, with thousands of fans all across the globe wearing their favorite player's jerseys and obviously, carrying their number with them.
Today, we’re going to honor 10 players that share a couple of things: they’re all great basketball glories, and they’ve all wore number 1 in their jerseys. Note, for this matter, we’re going to count just players that used number 1 for over 3 seasons, so Allen Iverson wouldn’t count with his Detroit Pistons stint.
Honorable Mention: Mahmoud Abdul Rauf, Jamal Crawford, Devin Booker, Tyreke Evans, D’Angelo Russell
10. Kyle Lowry
After a very slow start to his career, Kyle Lowry has really shaped up as a solid point guard and one of the main reasons why the Toronto Raptors have become such a dominant squad in the Eastern Conference over the last 3 or 4 seasons.
Lowry’s an underrated playmaker and a terrific shooter from beyond the arc, as well as being strongest than most of his opposition. Throughout his career, he’s made it to 4 All-Star games and has posted averages of 14.4 points, 5.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
9. Gus Williams
Gus Williams’ AKA The Wizard, was one of the most unstoppable combo guards in the league from 1975 to 1987, playing for the Golden State Warriors, Seattle Supersonics, Atlanta Hawks and Washington Bullets.
Over that span, Williams was able to make it to a couple of All-Star games and was a major factor in Seattle’s title run in the 1978-79 campaign. Throughout his career, he posted averages of 17.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 2 steals per game on 46% from the floor.
8. Amar’e Stoudemire
Amar’e Stoudemire was such a dominant rebounder and scorer during his prime with the Phoenix Suns, that’s pretty hard to believe that this team wasn’t able to win the NBA Championship with Steve Nash also leading the way.
STAT was always the strongest man on the building and his hustle and rebounding ability made him extremely dominant and hard to contain. Through his career, he averaged 18.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, winning the ROY and making it to 6 All-Stars and 5 All-NBA.
7. Chauncey Billups
Billups was one of the most important pieces on a Detroit Pistons championship team that didn’t have many stars but played with a lot of hustle on both ends of the hardwood, and he’s one of the most underrated playmakers of the past decade as well.
Chauncey’s long arms made him a terrific defender on switches and he was deadly in passing lanes as well, and he posted career averages of 15.2 points, 5.4 dimes and 1 steal per game, won an NBA Championship, a Finals MVP, made it to 2 All-Defensive squads and also to 5 All-Stars.
6. Chris Bosh
People tend to forget how much of a two-way beast Chris Bosh was during his Toronto Raptors years (and even with the Miami Heat) just because he thrived the most as the team’s third scoring option behind LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Bosh was the ultimate stretch big man with his great shooting stroke from beyond the arc, was a terrific rebounder and a great defender as well, and he was even considered to be the greatest player in Raptors history prior to DeRozan’s surge. Over his career, Bosh won 2 Championships and made it to 11 All-Star games with averages of 19.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.
5. Derrick Rose
Watching Derrick Rose struggle so much right now is extremely sad considering he was set to take the Chicago Bulls back to basketball elite, taking the league for assault right out of the gate during his Rookie of the Year campaign not so long ago.
Rose was Russell Westbrook before Russell Westbrook. Fast, athletic, strong and a terrific finisher, but he’s lost most of it right now. Up to this date, the 29-year-old has won the ROY, an MVP and has made it to 3 All-Stars, averaging 19.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 0.8 steals per game.
4. Nate Archibald
Nate “Tiny” Archibald is one of the greatest point guards this game has ever seen, a dominant scorer and playmaker that was finally able to win the NBA Championship with the Boston Celtics during the 1980-81 campaign.
Tiny Archibald even led the league in scoring in 1974 after averaging 34 points per game for the Kansas City-Omaha Kings, posting career averages of 18.8 points and 7.4 assists per game, and making it to 6 All-Stars with 1 All-Star MVP, and also lead the league in assists for a full season.
3. Penny Hardaway
Penny Hardaway was such a prolific scorer and leader that even most Orlando Magic fans believe the number 1 jersey should be retired because of him and not because of Tracy McGrady.
Hardaway was an offensive machine and the perfect complement for Shaq, and he was able to play at both guard spots and even at the three, showing a lot of versatility and a sweet touch from mid-range. Over his career, he averaged 15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5 assists per game and made it to 4 All-Stars.
2. Tracy McGrady
If Tracy McGrady were in his prime, he would still be dominating the NBA right now as one of the most crafty and gifted offensive players in the history of the game. He was a deadly shooter, an athletic freak and such a strong player and great dribbler that he was virtually unstoppable.
Sadly, injuries took a major toll in his career and he was never able to even lead his team to the NBA Finals, but his career averages of 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game are just remarkable. Also, the Hall of Famer led the league in scoring twice, won the league’s Most Improved Player and made it to 7 All-Star games as well.
1. Oscar Robertson
And Obviously, the Big O has to be the greatest player ever to wear the number 1 jersey, as he was the first player ever to average a triple-double for a full season and a point guard that could just fill up the stat sheet on a nightly basis throughout his entire career.
Robertson led the league in assists in 6 different seasons, won 1 Championship, 1 MVP, made it to 12 All-Stars with 3 All-Star MVPs, won the Roy and posted career averages of 25.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 9.5 assists per game.