Best Athletes The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired  

Ranker Sports
1.2k votes 51 voters 172 items

List Rules Vote up the best NBA players to have their legendary number retired for all time.

These are the best NBA players to have their numbers retired by the team where they made the biggest impact. Not every player in the NBA gets their number retired, it is an honor bestowed upon the best players of a franchise. The Boston Celtics have the most retired jerseys, with 24 numbers never to be worn again by a Celtics player. Does that mean that Larry Bird will make it to the top of the list? While all of these basketball players are great at the game, having your number retired does not automatically get you into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Players on this list that have been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame are noted. There are also no numbers in the NBA that have been retired league-wide, unlike the MLB and NHL. That being said, this list does have the greatest basketball players of all time.

Look below to see all the numbers retired in the NBA and if your favorite player has had their number retired. Then vote up the players that you think played the game the best. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant obviously come to mind but did you know that Kobe Bryant had both his numbers, 8 and 24, retired by the Los Angeles Lakers in his honor? This list does not have current players because they are still using their numbers and it does not have numbers that were retired for coaches, managers, or owners. This list is for players only and will determine the best NBA players to have had their number retired.

 

list ordered by
1
32 8
Michael Jordan is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat

Number: 23 (Bulls and Heat)

Years With Franchise: 1984–1993 (Bulls), 1995–1998 (Bulls), never played for Heat

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

2
26 5
Wilt Chamberlain is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers

Number: 13

Years With Franchise: 1959–1965 (Warriors), 1968–1973 (Lakers), 1965–1968 (76ers)

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

3
24 5
Bill Russell is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Boston Celtics

Number: 6

Years With Franchise: 1956–1969

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

4
30 10
Kobe Bryant is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Los Angeles Lakers

Number: 8, 24

Years With Franchise: 1996–2016

5
25 6
Larry Bird is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Boston Celtics

Number: 33

Years With Franchise: 1979–1992

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

6
23 6
Magic Johnson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Los Angeles Lakers

Number: 32

Years With Franchise: 1979–1991, 1996

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

7
18 5
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks

Number: 33

Years With Franchise: 1975–1989 (Lakers), 1969–1975 (Bucks)

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

8
19 6
Jerry West is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Los Angeles Lakers

Number: 44

Years With Franchise: 1960–1974

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

9
16 4
Hakeem Olajuwon is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Houston Rockets

Number: 34

Years With Franchise: 1984–2001

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

10
20 8
Shaquille O'Neal is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat

Number: 34 (Lakers), 32(Heat)

Years With Franchise: 1996–2004 (Lakers), 2004–2008 (Heat)

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

11
19 8
Tim Duncan is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
San Antonio Spurs

Number: 21

Years With Franchise: 1997–2016
 

12
15 5
Pete Maravich is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Atlanta Hawks, Utah Jazz

Number: 44 (Hawks), 7 (Jazz)

Years with franchise: 1970–1974 (Hawks), 1974–1979 (Jazz)

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

13
17 7
Julius Erving is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 786ers

Number: 32 (Nets), 6 (76ers)

Years With Franchise: 1973–1976 (Nets), 1976–1987 (76ers)

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

14
15 6
John Havlicek is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Boston Celtics

Number: 17

Years With Franchise: 1962–1978

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

 

15
16 7
Steve Nash is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Phoenix Suns

Number: 13

Years With Franchise: 1996–1998, 2004–2012

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

16
16 7
Reggie Miller is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Indiana Pacers

Number: 31

Years With Franchise: 1987–2005

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

17
16 7
Karl Malone is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Utah Jazz

Number: 32

Years With Franchise: 1985–2003

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

18
16 7
Oscar Robertson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings

Number: 1

Years With Franchise: 1970–1974 (Bucks), 1960–1970 (Kings)

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

19
12 4
Moses Malone is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers

Number: 24 (Rockets), 2 (76ers)

Years With Franchise: 1976–1982 (Rockets), 1982–1986, 1993–1994 (76ers)

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

20
16 8
Allen Iverson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Philadelphia 76ers

Number: 3

Years With Franchise: 1996–2006, 2009–2010

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

21
16 9
Scottie Pippen is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Chicago Bulls

Number: 33

Years With Franchise: 1987–1998, 2003–2004

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

22
11 5
Patrick Ewing is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 33

Years With Franchise: 1985–2000

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

23
12 6
Charles Barkley is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns

Number: 34

Years With Franchises: 1984–1992 (76ers), 1992–1996 (Suns)

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

24
6 1
Dennis Johnson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Boston Celtics

Number: 3

Years With Franchise: 1983–1990

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

25
11 6
Isiah Thomas is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
Detroit Pistons

Number: 11

Years With Franchise: 1981–1994

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.