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Mitchell & Ness recently unveiled their ‘Best Player by Jersey Number’ rankings. For every number from 00 to 99, they list who the best player in NBA history was to wear that number. What’s fun is that this is not a list of the top NBA players of all time because so many of the all-time greats wore the same number. This is the only world where former Sixers sharpshooter Jason Kapono, the only NBA player to ever wear #71, makes a list that Dr. J and LeBron miss. Bill Russell was picked for jersey #6 and Michael Jordan was obviously #23 (LeBron’s other number).
Ron Artest and Metta World Peace (same guy) both made the list because he (they?) always wore odd jersey numbers and had different names throughout his career. Even Shawn Bradley is there representing the Sixers with his #76.
As if the idea of this list wasn’t hard enough, here’s my take on the Philadelphia sports version of the ‘Best Player by Jersey Number’. Only players from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and 76ers were considered. When there were a number of guys to choose from, some tie breakers included how long they were a Philly athlete, the number of All-Star games they made in the time they wore that specific number, if they won a championship in that jersey.
For other numbers, it was an exercise in picking the lesser of many evils. That’s how you have a list that involves Chris Gocong, Wayne Gomes and no Brian Dawkins.
I look forward to someone pointing out an obvious miss that I somehow overlooked. Otherwise, it’s just a fun debate.
#0 – Isaiah Canaan
#00 – Spencer Hawes
#1 – Richie Asburn | Whitey gets the nod here over Bernie Parent who you’ll see later in the list because he wore more than one number. Two great Hall of Famers, but I went with Richie.
#2 – Moses Malone
#3 – Allen Iverson | Arguably the most important athlete in Philadelphia sports history over the last 30 years. He also changed the NBA forever.
#4 – Barry Ashbee
#5 – Donovan McNabb | He has his haters (I am not one), but he is the greatest quarterback in Eagles history.
#6 – Julius Erving | The greatest Sixer of all time
#7 – Bill Barber | Honorable Mention – Ron Jaworski
#8 – Mark Recchi | Honorable Mention – Shane Victorino
#9 – Von Hayes
#10 – Mo Cheeks | Honorable Mention – John LeClair
#11 – Jimmy Rollins | Rollins changed the culture in the Phillies organization when he proclaimed the 2007 team the ‘Team to Beat’ and he backed it up with swagger and an MVP season. He helped lead the Phillies to their first World Series championship in 28 years. I couldn’t go with Hall of Fame quarterback Norm van Brocklin because only 3 of his 12 years were spent in Philadelphia.
#12 – Tim Kerr | Honorable Mention – Randall Cunningham
#13 – Wilt Chamberlain | He averaged 27.6 points and 23.9 rebounds as a Sixer. Read that again. Oh, and for good measure he has the only 100-point game in NBA history (as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors).
#14 – Jim Bunning
#15 – Steve Van Buren
#16 – Bobby Clarke | The captain of the Cup-winning teams and probably the greatest Flyer ever
#17 – Harold Carmichael | Honorable Mention – Jeff Carter and Scott Rolen | It’s a good thing people like Carmichael or #17 might need to just be retired city wide.
#18 – Mike Richards | Carter and Richards together again.
#19 – Greg Luzinski | Honorable Mention – Scott Hartnell
#20 – Mike Schmidt | Honorable Mention – Brian Dawkins | This is the pinnacle of Philadelphia jersey numbers. But, the nod has to go to Schmidt. Unless you’re from Baltimore, he is the greatest third baseman of all time. That takes nothing away from Dawkins who is the greatest living Eagle. Putting him against Schmidt may be the only way to keep Dawkins off any list of great Philadelphia athletes.
#21 – Eric Allen
#22 – Andrew Toney
#23 – Troy Vincent
#24 – Bobby Jones
#25 – Tommy McDonald
#26 – Chase Utley
#27 – Ron Hextall
#28 – Claude Giroux
#29 – John Kruk
#30 – Bernie Parent | With him up against Ashburn at jersey #1, this was the only way to get him on the list. He wore #30 during his first stint in Philadelphia.
#31 – Wilbert Montgomery | Honorable Mention – Pelle Lindbergh
#32 – Steve Carlton | The greatest pitcher in Phillies history
#33 – Cliff Lee
#34 – Charles Barkley | Honorable Mention – Roy Halladay
#35 – Cole Hamels
#36 – Robin Roberts
#37 – Eric Desjardins
#38 – Curt Schilling
Writers Note: If you’re a Phillies pitcher, go with a number in the 30s. Carlton, Lee, Halladay, Hamels, Roberts and Schilling all with numbers between 32-38.
#39 – Brett Myers
#40 – Tom Brookshire
#41 – Chris Short
#42 – Jerry Stackhouse
#43 – Randy Wolf
#44 – Kimmo Timonen | Honorable Mention – Pete Retzlaff
#45 – Tug McGraw
#46 – Herm Edwards
#47 – Larry Andersen
#48 – Danny Briere
#49 – Jose Mesa
#50 – Jamie Moyer
#51 – Carlos Ruiz
#52 – Ricky Bottalico
#53 – TIE (The only tie in the entire list) – Bobby Abreu and Hugh Douglas
#54 – Brad Lidge | The perfect season and falling to his knees after devastating Eric Hinskie with a championship-clinching slider sealed it for Lidge
#55 – Dikembe Mutombo | Once the “Who Wants to Sex Mutumbo?” story was confirmed, there was no chance for anyone else.
#56 – Joe Blanton
#57 – Chris Gocong | I’m sorry you had to read that.
#58 – Trent Cole
#59 – Seth Joyner
#60 – Chuck Bednarik
#61 – Wayne Gomes | Again, my apologies. But, as we get to higher, less common numbers, this will keep happening.
#62 – Jason Kelce
#63 – Ryan Madson
#64 – Ed Blaine
#65 – Charlie Johnson
#66 – Bill Bergey
#67 – Jamaal Jackson
#68 – Jaromir Jagr
#69 – Jon Runyan
#70 – Al Wistert
#71 – Jason Peters
#72 – Tra Thomas
#73 – (Please, avert your eyes) – Shawn Andrews
#74 – Ugueth Urbina
#75 – Stan Walters
#76 – Bob Brown | Honorable Mention – Shawn Bradley
#77 – Paul Coffey
#78 – Hollis Thomas
#79 – Todd Herremans
#80 – Irving Fryar
#81 – Terrell Owens
#82 – Mike Quick
#83 – Bobby Walston
#84 – Freddie Mitchell
#85 – Charlie Smith
#86 – Fred Barnett
#87 – Brent Celek
#88 – Eric Lindros
#89 – Calvin Williams
#90 – Corey Simon
#91 – Fletcher Cox
#92 – Reggie White
#93 – Jakub Voracek
#94 – N.D. Kalu
#95 – William Fuller
#96 – Clyde Simmons
#97 – Jeremy Roenick
#98 – Mike Patterson
#99 – Jerome Brown
#9 Andre Iguodala
#89 should be Chad Lewis
Didn’t Glen Macnow do something like this in one of his books?
I think #89 should be Wally Henry Philadelphia Eagles
#9 Hunter Pence
#33 Andrew Bynum
Hunter was number 3 while in Philly not 9
Ask me if I give a shit
Solid list…kudos for putting Schmidt over Dawkins. Love them both but Schmidt is a multiple time MVP. I’d put Brind’Amour ahead of Carter & Rolen.
Agreed #20 is probably the uber Philly uniform number. But there’s a close second for #31 (also the number I wore in HS). Your list is correct with Wilbert Montgomery first, followed by Pelle. But man is Garry Maddox a close third. That only leaves Mark McNamara for the Sixers.
Special recognition for #66, for not only Bill Bergey being the greatest Philly athlete to wear the number in the big four, but for his son Jake Bergey having had his #66 retired by the Philadelphia Wings as well. Maybe the best father/son combo in Philly history this side of Eddie and Kevin Bacon.
Seriously, Jeff Carter is an honorable mention over me?
You probably could’ve thrown Jeremiah Trotter an Honorable Mention for #54.
how does Darren Daulton NOT get a mention at #10?!?!? For how long he was with the Phils, and became the (ring)leader of early ’90’s teams– not to mention how beloved and approachable he is around town… TRAVESTY!!!
Danny Briere over Wes Hopkins?? Joe Blanton over Byron Evans?? And not a mention of #41 Keith Byars….
“That takes nothing away from Dawkins who is the greatest living Eagle. ” I have to disagree on that statemnt TommyMcDonald is still alive…..
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