This is part 2, of a 2-part series. In part 1, I went from jersey #’s 00-5. In this article, I will be finishing out #’s 00-10, starting with #6. Before I start, I want to reiterate that this list is my PERSONAL opinion. I’m not stating facts, just my opinion. You may agree, and you may not. Also, there may be a player (or multiple players) that wore different numbers during their career. Depending on the competition of the said jersey #, they could show up on my list for both or just one of the #’s.
With that being said, let’s get back to the list:
#6(Tie)- Julius Erving (SF, Philadelphia 76ers (1976-1987)/ Bill Russell (C, Boston Celtics (1956-1969)
I was trying my best not to have any ties throughout Part 1 and 2 of this list. But I just can’t bring myself to pick between the king of the slam dunk (Erving), and the player with the most NBA Titles (Russell with 11). They both have more total accolades/awards each, then I count on both hands, maybe even three hands. And they were both super influential to the star’s of todays game.
With Russell it wasn’t just the 11 titles, or the 5 MVPs that cemented his place in NBA history. But also the fact that for two of those championships (1968, 1969), he was a player and the Head Coach. The first Black Head Coach in NBA history. Player/Coach roles are seldom seen, if at all, in todays Pro Sports leagues, but Russell was one of the best of the kind.
As for Erving, he is a player that is remembered not just for his time in the NBA, but also the ABA. The ABA was the NBA’s competitor from 1967-1976, before the two leagues merged. The former UMass star, won more championships in the ABA (2), then he did in the NBA (1). It was also during his time in the ABA, that Erving showed off his “famous” free-throw line dunk during the league’s first-ever Slam Dunk Contest.
#7- Carmelo Anthony (SF, 6 Teams, 2003-Present)
Melo is one of the players that could be on this list for two different numbers (7 and 15). He still could be, if I decide to keep this series going. But for now, he is my pick for jersey #7.
Melo might still be chasing the Larry O’Brien Trophy, but that doesn’t take away from his spot in NBA History. I mean, you don’t get named to a league’s 75th Anniversary Team for just being an “OK” player. In 13 out of his 20 seasons (so far), the former NCAA champion has been on a playoff team. Making it to the Conference Finals once, with Denver in 2009 (4-2 series loss vs LAL).
For some players, “team hopping” near the end of their career(s) can make them seem less talented or something of that nature. At least to casual fans. But for Melo, at least to me, it won’t take away any of what he’s done during his long storied career in the league. He is 9th All-Time in scoring (so far), and is a 10x All-Star. Melo’s legacy will live on in my head, and hopefully many others, even with the “team hopping”.
#8- Kobe Bryant (SG, Los Angeles Lakers, 1996-2016)
The second player in a row, on this list, that could be used for two different jersey #’s. The late, great, “Black Mamba”, Kobe Bean Bryant. As a Celtics fan, growing up I despised Kobe, since he was on the other side of the biggest rivalry in basketball at the time (Celtics/Lakers). But as I got older, I learned to respect him more and the hate for Kobe slowly dissipated. For the last few years of his career, he was one of my favorite players.
There wasn’t really a player that held much of a candle to Kobe, for the #8 jersey spot. Don’t get me wrong there were some very solid players, as you’ll see named below in the honorable mentions. But, in my opinion, Kobe is a top 5, if not top 3, player of all time. And none of the other guys to ever wear #8 even crack the top 20 on my list.
An 18x All-Star, 5x Champion, and a 4x MVP. Not to mention, Bryant won 2 Oscars for his animated short “Dear Basketball”. He was the first professional athlete to win an Academy Award. Which means his legacy will live on in more than one source of entertainment.
#9- Tony Parker (PG, SA/CHA, 2001-2019)
A crucial part of the San Antonio Spurs dominance of the early-mid 2000’s. Parker, along with Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili, helped the Spurs to 3 NBA Titles during that time (2003, 2005, 2007). Those 3 titles included a Finals MVP for Parker (2007). The Belgium-Born Legend shot almost 50% in the regular season for his career (49.1%). As well as 46% shooting in his Playoff career.
While there was some slight competition for this spot on my list. The fact that TP was so impactful to the Spurs dynasty, and influential to the point guards that came after him, gives him a leg up.
Rounding out my 2-part list, the man with the snazziest suits in the commentating game. Hall Of Famer, Walt “Clyde” Frazier. Gonna be completely honest. Before making this list, I had no idea that Frazier was as good as he was. I knew he was a solid/well-known player, but didn’t realize he exceeded what I assumed of him.
A former top-5 pick (1967), Frazier was a 7x All-Star, 7x All-Defense team, 6x All-NBA and a 2x NBA Champ. Which, of course, led to him being named to the NBA 75th Anniversary team. The fact that 1) I didn’t think he was that good and 2) he has that many awards, makes me want to go back and watch some of his games.
Soon after retiring, Frazier forayed into the broadcasting game, which is where he is today. Color commentating for the Knicks on their MSG Network. The snazzy suits he wears grabs your eyes attention, and his knowledge of the game grabs your ears attention. The only man in the broadcasting game to ever rival his suits, was of course, the late, great Craig Sager.
That marks the end of my 2 part series/list of the greatest players in the NBA to wear every jersey # from 00 to 10. Hope you enjoyed, and maybe be on the lookout for another list of this kind soon.