Retired NBA Players and Their Jerseys

With the first half of the regular season running until March 4th, now is as good a time as any to stock up on NBA merch, like NBA jumpers and jerseys to add to your collection. Brands like Majestic clothing and Mitchell and Ness are supplying the goods so that you can get comfy repping your team whilst watching the game. Whilst we’re not ready to debate who are the greatest NBA players of all time, we thought we’d take a look at those players who have retired and taken their jersey numbers along with them.

Michael Jordan

23 Chicago Bulls & 23 Miami Heat

With an impressive number of achievements under his belt, from five MVPs and six Finals MVPs to Defensive Player of the Year (‘88), it’s clear why Michael Jordan continues to be regarded as the GOAT. When he retired from basketball (for the second time) in 1998, the Chicago Bulls retired the No. 23 jersey in his honour. Jordan came back out of retirement (again) to play for the Washington Wizards from 2001-2003, playing one last time against Miami Heat in 2003. Despite Jordan never having played for them, Heat announced that they would be retiring No. 23 during Jordan’s final game. Heat President and former coach Pat Riley stated: “In honour of your greatness and for all you’ve done for the game of basketball – and not just the NBA, but for all the fans around the world – we want to honour you tonight and hang your jersey, No. 23, from the rafters...No one will ever wear No. 23 for the Miami Heat. You’re the best.”

Shaquille O’Neal

34 Los Angeles Lakers & 32 Miami Heat

Arguably one of the most dominant players to ever grace the court, Shaquille O’Neal’s list of accolades comes close to rivalling Jordan’s. If it wasn’t for Michael Jordan, O’Neal might have stolen the number one spot. As it stands, O’Neal is still a hugely successful player – four-time NBA champion and three-time Finals MVP, so it seems fitting that he should have not one but two retired jersey numbers to his name. 

Kobe Bryant 

8 & 24 Los Angeles Lakers <H3>

Despite the tragic end to his life, Kobe Bryant will continue to live on in the minds and hearts of fans for being one of the greatest NBA players ever. Bryant will be remembered for his incredible career spanning two decades, where he only ever played for the Los Angeles Lakers. His accomplishments include NBA MVP (‘08), 5-time champion, two-time Finals MVP and 18-time All-Star. Bryant is the only player in the league’s history to have two jersey numbers retired with the same team. When Bryant joined the Lakers straight out of school in 1996, he opted to wear the No. 8 as the two numbers he had worn in high school (No. 24 and No. 33) were already taken. He then switched to No. 24 part way through his career when it became available.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 

33 Los Angeles Lakers & 33 Milwaukee Bucks

Despite remaining the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is rather underrated compared to a lot of the other players on this list, which is unfortunate considering how talented he is. Abdul-Jabbar won three MVPs with each franchise, so it makes sense for him to have his jersey numbers retired from both the Bucks and the Lakers. Alongside Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon, Abdul-Jabbar is considered one of the greatest centers in NBA history. 

Wilt Chamberlain 

13 Golden State Warriors, 13 Los Angeles Lakers & 13 Philadelphia 76ers

Wilt Chamberlain continues to be the only player in NBA history to have his jersey number (No. 13) retired by three different teams. This is of course a testament to how incredible a basketball player he was. The only person to come close to this is LeBron James, who looks set to have his number retired by three franchises – Los Angeles, Miami and Cleveland – when his wildly impressive career draws to an end.