Having your jersey hanging in the rafters has to be one of the greatest honors a player can achieve, leaving a legacy that’s even bigger than the Championships, the money, the fame and all of those things just a handful of athletes can ever get.
Over the course of history, several players have made such a great impact on a franchise and the local community, that their influence goes far beyond the hardwood, and they own the right to be immortalized after all they gave to the institution and the fans.
But, among those elite players, there have been some of them that have taken that honor to a whole different level, earning the right to have their jerseys retired not by one, but two different NBA Franchises after they decide to retire.
Today, we’re going to let you know about those great ballers that earned the right to have their jerseys hanging high forever, with no other player able to ever wear that number again regardless of who they are.
Nate Thurmond: Philadelphia Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers
Nate Thurmond was the guy responsible for filling the void Wilt Chamberlain left in the middle for the Philadelphia Warriors when he took his talents to the Los Angeles Lakers, and he didn’t miss a beat, leading that franchise in minutes played and is the third in the all-time leading scorer list, although he was never able to win the ring for them.
A vocal leader that was able to make a huge impact in both ends of the court, and he was even a fundamental part of the Cleveland Cavaliers Conference Finals run, earning the right to have his 42 jersey retired.
Pete Maravich: Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans
“Pistol Pete” is without a doubt, one of the most gifted offensive players, dribblers and playmakers in NBA history, averaging over 24 points per contest and scoring in a variety of ways while also making outstanding plays on both ends of the floor due to his handles and ability.
He spent the majority of his career playing for the New Orleans Jazz (1979 - relocated to Salt Lake City, but he didn't stay long there). In January 1980, he retired as a Boston Celtic. The Jazz retired his No. 7 five years later. The New Orleans Hornets retired his number in 2002 in recognition of his great contributions for the city.
Oscar Robertson: Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings
Oscar Robertson has two different numbers retired, number 1 with the Bucks and number 14 with the Sacramento Kings, and after all these years, he’s still the all-time franchise leader in dimes and points and third in total boards.
Even though Robertson had his most prolific years with the Cincinnati Royals (Where he became the first player in history to average a triple-double for a season), he went the distance alongside Kareem at Milwaukee and won the NBA title during the early 70’s.
Earl Monroe: New York Knicks and Baltimore Bullets
Earl Monroe, also known as Black Jesus, was one of the most talented yet unlucky players in NBA history, losing back to back finals with different franchises, but still being the team’s ultimate leader on and off the court.
Paired alongside Walt Frazier, the Knicks had the best backcourt in the world at the time, and even though he was forced to retire due to a knee injury, his impact in the hardwood granted him the right to see his number 15 jersey retired by the Knicks and the number 10 by the Baltimore (Wizards) franchise as well.
Shaquille O’Neal: Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat
Shaquille O’Neal will go down as the most dominant center of his era, and the strongest player in the hardwood every time he set foot into it. A human highlight reel that could demolish backboards with the same ease as he gets past defenders obviously had to be immortalized for his talents.
That’s why the Los Angeles Lakers retired his 34 jersey after he went on to win 3 NBA Championships with 3 Finals MVPs as well, and the Miami Heat also hanged his jersey in rafters after he was the perfect complement for a young Dwyane Wade in the franchise’s first championship ever.
Bob Lanier: Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks
Lanier was a huge beast for the Detroit Pistons ever since the Michigan franchise drafted him way back then, staying put for a decade at the Palace with averages of almost 23 points, over 11 boards and 2 swats per contest.
He went on to the Milwaukee Bucks via trade and even though his numbers took a minor dip, he was able to lead them to several division titles, earning the right to get his number 16 jersey retired by both franchises.
Julius Erving: Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets
Julius Erving, AKA Doctor J was one of the most influential players of his generation, a guy that young ballers like Michael Jordan looked up to, and a total beast in both ends of the court in the ABA until he finally made it to the Sixers where he won the MVP in 1981 and a ring in 1983.
Erving was one of the most dominant players below the rim and his athleticism flashed every time he drove to the lane. So, the Nets retired his 32 jersey as well as the Sixers, where he wore number 6.
Clyde Drexler: Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets
If it wasn’t for Michael Jordan, perhaps Clyde Drexler would’ve been able to take his Portland Trail Blazers to the NBA title, and people tend to forget how incredibly talented Clyde was at the 2 because of MJ’s surge and presence.
Eventually, he would at least win one title with the Houston Rockets alongside Hakeem Olajuwon (during Jordan’s retirement), and his number 22 jersey was retired by both franchises. On a side note, he’s the all-time leader in Blazers history in 15 different categories, take that, Dame Lillard
Wilt Chamberlain: Philadelphia Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers
The big dipper has his jersey (all number 13) by three different teams, the lone player in NBA history that can brag about this honor. Chamberlain was the most dominant player of his era, although he wasn’t able to win more than 2 Championships throughout his entire career.
Wilt was so dominant, athletic and gifted, that the league thought of millions of ways to make the game more fair with him in the hardwood, changing several rules and court measures. His lifetime averages of over 22.9 boards are still absurd and aren’t likely to be surpassed any time soon.
Charles Barkley: Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns
Barkley’s Philadelphia stint didn’t get off to the best of finishes, as he was asking for a trade to a contending squad, but he still was one of the most entertaining and dominant players to watch back in the day, with the league even changing a rule due to how easy was for him to take defenders to school and hit on a turnaround from the elbow.
Chuck will go down as one of the best players in Phoenix’s history as well, and he’s yet another victim of Michael Jordan, who stopped him from ever becoming an NBA Champion. Regardless, his number 34 jersey is retired in both franchises.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led the Milwaukee Bucks to a Championship during his 5-year tenure there, and he became the most unstoppable offensive player of his era. Sadly for them, he wanted to play for a bigger market, forcing the team’s hand to deal him to L.A.
During showtime era, Kareem and Magic developed huge chemistry to build a dynasty in purple and gold, and he’s still the league’s all-time leader in points scored, earning the right to get his 33 jersey retired by both teams.
Kobe Bryant: Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he still makes this list. How come? See, during the first three Championships, the Black Mamba wore number 8 in his jersey, which he eventually changed to 24, in which he retired.
So, after deciding to retire, the never ending debate regarding which jersey should the Lakers retire came to an end, with Los Angeles retiring both number 24 and number 8, a well-deserved honor for the 5 time NBA Champion and the greatest player in Lakers history.
Michael Jordan: Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat
This one’s one of the most bizarre stories ever, but it’s definitely worth telling. See, everybody would think that if Jordan’s number was retired by two franchises, it would be the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards, where he eventually retired after a second comeback.
Nonetheless, it was the Miami Heat that also retired his number 23 jersey, despite the fact that MJ never played a single game on a Miami uniform, neither was he even close of doing so. Still, the South Beach franchise decided to honor him for all of his great contributions to basketball and sports. Only the GOAT could have his jersey retired by a team in which he never played.