So how many other players have the clout and accomplishments to have two of their numbers retired? Kobe Bean Bryant deserves it. As number 8 he played in one of the best one-two punches of all time with Shaquille O’Neal and 24 as the NBA great who continued to cement himself among NBA legends. The 13th pick of the ’96 draft is a five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star. After Magic Johnson, he’s one of the most prolific to ever don the purple and gold.
But the Black Mamba isn’t the only NBA great to ever switch jersey numbers, so ahead of his jersey retirement tonight here a few of CASSIUS’ other favorites.
“When I come back like Jordan wearin’ the 4-5, it ain’t to play games with you,” Jay-Z spat in the Yeezy produced cut Encore in 2003. And Jordan lived up to the hype he left behind after his first retirement by going for a second three-peat while wearing his number 45 jersey after being freshly defeated in the 1993-94 season. Upon his return there was just one issue, the Bulls had already retired his number 23 jersey so he decided to rock the same number he wore while playing baseball. Money once wore a number 12 jersey when someone stole his, but never strayed again. The legend continues to grow even though the rings stopped at six.
Not only does the King change teams, but he also changes numbers whenever he switches squads, too. Bron wore the number 23 while at St. Vincent-St. Mary and during his first seven-year stint as a Cavalier. When he—shudders— took his talents to South Beach, he decided to rock number 6 out of respect for Michael Jordan. When His Airness was asked about other players wearing his old number, he didn’t seem to really care. “I’m cool with it, I don’t own a number,” he once told ESPN via text. After all of that James decided to wear number 23 again when he returned to the Cavaliers and brought the city its first sports championship since 1964. It doesn’t matter what number he’s wearing— the King still rules the court.
With a nickname like the human highlight reel, Dominique Wilkins was a dream for fans to watch and a nightmare night in and night out for the opposing teams. The third overall pick from the 1982 NBA draft made a name for himself with the Atlanta Hawks winning two slam dunk contests and making the All-Star team nine times. He played 12 seasons with the Hawks before joining the Celtics— where he changed his infamous number 21 jersey to 12. Even at age 35, he showed why he was one of the best dunkers the league has ever seen and recorded 26,668 points in his career. And more than 20 years later he’s still 13 on the all-time scoring list.
The Kid wasn’t just one of the most elite shit talkers in the NBA, but he had the game to back it up. The fresh-faced rookie — with hair included— was drafted in ’95, was the first player to get drafted out of high school in over 20 years and quickly became the franchise player for the Minnesota Timberwolves, one of the newest franchises in the NBA. He made it his own and became a menace on the court from the ’90s to the early aughts all while rocking his number 21 jersey. But that all changed when he was traded to the Boston Celtics in 2007 and he had the number 5 emblazoned across his chest. And the very next year he and the rest of The Big Three would bring the trophy back to TD Garden for the first time since 1986.