On – 18 Nov, 2016 By Tommy D
Ask just about anyone in the world, even if they aren’t a fan of sports, what number Michael Jordan wore during his time with the Chicago Bulls and there is a very good chance you are going to get the correct answer, it was 23.
Michael Jordan is not just a legendary professional basketball player, he was an icon and known all over the world as the greatest player in NBA history. Besides winning six NBA titles in his career, MJ became a marketable sensation. From his shoes, which still remain one of the top selling shoes brands of all-time to his commercials, Michael Jordan was everywhere during his NBA career. You almost couldn’t turn on a television and not see a MJ commercial for McDonald’s or Nike.
His jersey was also one of the top sellers for almost his entire time in the league only helping to show off his number 23 jersey to just about everyone in the world that had a pair of eyes.
But what about the others players that wore the number 23 during their NBA careers? Michael Jordan wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last to wear the number so let’s take a look at the best NBA stars to wear the infamous 23.
15. Kevin Martin (2005-2016)
For a few seasons, Kevin Martin was a dangerous scorer in Sacramento that created several matchup issues because of his size and the way he shot the basketball. His shot wasn’t the best, no one would ever teach a kid how to shoot using Kevin Martin as an example, but at 6’7″ he could get away with it every night.
But then he went to Houston and his numbers started to decline each season before they hit one of his lowest per game averages after he got to Oklahoma City in 2012-13. The following season he went to Minnesota and his numbers came back up, along with his dangerous outside scoring before he faded off into near oblivion during the 2015-16 season in San Antonio.
His best performances remain during his time in Sacramento and if he could see into his future, he would have stayed there instead of moving to Houston, OKC, etc…
14. Martell Webster (2010)
Martell Webster is one of the most frustrating NBA players in recent memory. He has always been a guy that has the talent to become a star, he has just had bad luck staying healthy for an entire season. In fact, he played 10 seasons in the NBA, for three different teams, and only played a full season twice. For the rest of his career he was a consistently injured player that would miss between 10-20 games a season, and sometimes more.
But right before he left Portland, in his final season there, he changed over to number 23 during the 2010 year. It was also one of the only seasons he managed to play in all 82 games without missing any games due to injury. He averaged 9.4 points per game that year and was a sixth man that was about to become a star. However, he left town for Minnesota the next season and then headed to Washington after two years with the Wolves.
13. Lou Williams (2006 – Present)
After spending a few seasons as one of the NBA’s best sixth men, he eventually won the official NBA Sixth Man of the Year award following his amazing 2014-15 NBA season in which he averaged 15.5 points per game while shooting 40.4% FG and 34% from beyond the arc, all while coming off the bench for the Toronto Raptors in his one and only season in Canada.
He was the best sixth man in Atlanta for two seasons before going to Toronto, and he was their best sixth man before moving to LA and taking on a role with the young Lakers. He ended up having to start 35 games during the 2015-16 season and went from a sixth man to a starting guard that could score 15 points a night. However, his biggest asset was his scoring off the bench. He was never an assists man or even a big time rebounder but what he could do is come off the bench and score some points.
The Lakers realized that and now have made him play the role he does best and it has paid off, he is averaging more than 15 points per game this season while also adding 3.5 assists per night.
12. Lou Hudson (1967-1979)
Many people don’t remember Lou Hudson because he played long before their time. He was one of those guys that played several years in Atlanta before spending his final two years in Los Angeles playing for the Lakers in the late ’70s. He spent so much time in Atlanta, he was actually there before they moved to the ATL, back when they were in St. Louis.
This guy was a scorer for his entire career and was a six-time NBA All-Star too. He was Kevin Durant long before they had a three-point line. He wasn’t as tall but the guy could score points in almost any situation. He found ways to put points on the board every night and got to about 27 points a game for several years in Atlanta. He could rebound and pass but just never truly wanted to because he could score and he shot 48.9% from the field for his career.
11. Mark Aguirre (1989-1992)
After spending the first few years of his NBA career with the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Aguirre moved on to the Detroit Pistons where he would change his number to 23 for the next few seasons.
During his time in Detroit, he changed from becoming a pure scorer, averaging about 25 points per game in Dallas, to an all-around player that helped the Pistons win two consecutive NBA titles in 1989 and 1990. He worked on the defensive side of the ball and proved his value fairly quickly before eventually becoming expendable for the organization after Dennis Rodman solidified his role as the defensive phenom he became during the early ’90s.
When it was all said and done, Mark Aguirre was a 20 points, five rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game player that won two NBA titles as a major contributor with the Detroit Pistons.
10. Metta World Peace (2003-2004)
The only difference between Metta World Peace and Ron Artest is that one of them was known as a nutjob on the court while the other changed his name to Metta World Peace.
He wasn’t a terrible player either, he was actually one of the best defenders in the NBA for several years and even won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award in 2004. But just like most troubled athletes, the only thing people can remember about Ron Artest is when he was involved in the Malice at the Palace in 2004. It was one of the scariest moments for any fan of the game because it was the moment the players broke the line of fan and athletes and actually attacked the fans. He and a few teammates ended up brawling with Detroit Pistons players before turning that into an all out brawl in the stands.
It was probably that exact moment where he changed his entire mindset on the game of basketball as he was not involved in another altercation of that magnitude for the rest of his career.
9. Jeff Mullins (1967-1976)
It is hard to imagine a professional basketball player with the nickname “Pork Chop” but that is what Jeff Mullins was called back in his NBA playing days with the Golden State Warriors. It was about the time the team moved from San Francisco to Oakland and that nickname stuck throughout his entire career and no one can really tell you where it came from or why he was being called it.
After making it to St.Louis for the 1964-65 NBA season, he wasn’t much use there and ended up going to the Warriors during his third year in the league where he exploded into a true scorer from the shooting guard spot. He would average 20 or more points over the four best seasons of his career along with five rebounds and five assists per game.
He would eventually reach the promise land during the 1974-75 season where he would go on to win the one and only NBA title to his name.
8. Jason Richardson (2002-2015)
The NBA’s best slam dunk champion wasn’t Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, or Dominique Wilkins, it was Jason Richardson. Although they had highlight dunks during live NBA games, Jason Richardson did it daily. He had so many slam dunks throughout his career that made the fans stand up in their seats that it is tough to narrow the list down to just a few.
He validated his dunking reputation when he won the 2002 NBA All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk contest. But he wasn’t finished and he returned the following year to obliterate the competition and win it a second time in a row.
He was not just a dunk machine, he was a legit All-Star and a huge fan favorite in Oakland where the Warrior fans absolutely loved him even after he left the Warriors. He was their most popular players in franchise history until a sharpshooting point guard by the name of Stephen Curry showed up and absolutely shot the lights out of the arena.
7. Alex English (1977)
For just one season, Alex English wore the number 23. It was during his rookie season when he was with the Milwaukee Bucks, back during 1976-77 season. He spent his first season averaging 5.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. It is typical numbers from a rookie in the NBA.
After his first season, he changed his number to 22 and wore that until he changed one more time to just the number 2. He loves the number 2 apparently and it was a good call because when he wore the number 23, he had his lowest statistical averages per game of his career.
He continued to get better each season and eventually became one of the leagues best scorers, even leading the league in scoring back in 1982-83 when he averaged 28.4 points per game. His numbers don’t reflect just how good he was at scoring but his induction into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame did.
6. Draymond Green (2013 – Present)
One of the NBA’s best stories over the past few seasons is the emergence of former Michigan State Spartan standout, Draymond Green. He was drafted in the second round as a role player but has since turned into one of the best players in the league due to his hard work and determination to become the best player in the league. He trimmed down 20 pounds after his rookie campaign and added a three-point shot to his game heading into the 2013-14 season which was good enough to turn him into an emerging star.
Thanks to a perfect blend of defense, outside scoring, and fast-paced offensive play calling, the Golden State Warriors changed into one of the NBA’s premier teams and won the NBA Finals after an amazing 2014-15 season in which Draymond averaged 11.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. He became an overall good player and not just a one-trick pony.
5. Mitch Richmond (1989-1991, 2002)
For whatever reason, Mitch Richmond wore the number 23 twice in his career, for two different franchises. The first time he wore it was during his final two years with the Golden State Warriors where he was already becoming a star in the league. He would then put that jersey number back on during his final season in the league when he was with the Los Angeles Lakers.
His time in LA wasn’t the most memorable and he ended up retiring the following season but he was still one of the leagues best scorers for many seasons and actually spent his first ten seasons averaging more than 21.9 points per game. His best years ended up being after he got settled in with the Sacramento Kings. It was then that he began getting more chances to score and became an overall better player on both sides of the ball.
He earned himself a spot in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in August of 2014.
4. Marcus Camby (1996-2013)
Anywhere he went, Marcus Camby ended up one of the best defenders the franchise had ever seen and he has played for a good long list of teams like the Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Houston Rockets.
Not being known for his scoring, Marcus Camby instead focused on his defense and created a wall in the paint for opposing offenses which led him to a career 2.4 blocks per game average. He even spent several season average 3.3 blocks per game or better which includes his second season in the league where he had 3.7 per game. As his defense improved, year after year, he became one of those hardworking players that a lot of teams were willing to pay for because you knew what you were getting out of him.
On any given night, Marcus was going to get you 10 boards, at least, and a few blocks too. His scoring only added to his overall value and his best seasons were during his time in Denver when he started averaging 12 points a night.
3. Calvin Murphy (1970-1983)
Unlike many of the other superstars in the NBA, Calvin Murphy was a tiny guy that learned how to play defense early on in his career to become one of the leagues better defenders. He also worked on his free throw shooting and became one of the greatest shooters ever from the line. It was the simply things like defense and free throw shooting that turned Calvin Murphy into a legend in Houston.
Over the year he turned in double digit averages in scoring per game that reached an all-time high in 1978 when he finished the season with a 25.6 average. He was always a hardworking guy that put up a few assists and steals per game too. He was just in Houston in the wrong era. He missed the best years of the Rockets by ten years.
He was inducted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993 making him one of the best players not named Michael Jordan to wear the number 23.
2. Anthony Davis (2012 – Present)
At 6’10,” Anthony Davis is one of the tallest players the NBA had ever seen that can run the point guard position like Jason Kidd. He isn’t a PG anymore but he was growing up until he hit a growth spurt one summer that turned him into a tall lanky center for the University of Kentucky. His talent was legitimized when he led the Wildcats to a NCAA National Championship in his one and only season in college. He dominated the league and was so much fun to watch too.
He then got drafted to New Orleans and has helped to change the way that city looked at the sport of basketball. He was heading to a city that loves football and likes basketball. But after Chris Paul left town, the Pelicans spent several years sinking until AD showed up and turned them into a marketable franchise.
They haven’t had any luck as of late but that is at no fault to AD, that has more to do with the Pelicans experiencing some bad luck over the past few years. If healthy, this team is a legit playoff contender that just needs one or two more pieces to become a Finals contender.
1. Lebron James (2003 – Present)
At what point do people start to love LeBron James for everything he has done for the sport of professional basketball? For some reason, people started hating him after he was compared to Michael Jordan early on in his career. It did not help that he made a big showcase of his announcement of which team he was planning on signing with during his first time as a free agent in 2010.
He turned into a villain in Cleveland for leaving them for the chance to play with two other superstars in the NBA, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, to form the “Big 3” and create an easier route to the NBA Finals then he would have had in Cleveland. It was a mistake that was fixed when he returned to Cleveland in 2014 and ended up winning the city its’ first NBA title just last summer.
It is nearly impossible to compare NBA players against one another that never played against one another so it is never fair to put LeBron James and Michael Jordan together in a battle of who is the best. We will never know the answer to that question so we should all just enjoy the talented superstar without worrying about becoming the best ever.