Sports

The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired 

Ranker Sports
Updated July 25, 2019 3.1k votes 147 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 of NBA retired numbers 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
Michael Jordan is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

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.

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2
Kobe Bryant is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
3
Wilt Chamberlain is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 13

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

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

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18 Unbelievable But True Stories from the Buckwild Life of Wilt Chamberlain #9 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #264 of 529 Things That Are Not As Cool As People Think They Are

4
Larry Bird is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 33

Years With Franchise: 1979–1992

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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#4 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #132 of 256 Celebrities Who Should Run for President #19 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time

5
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 33

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

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

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#3 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #1,421 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #10 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time

6
Bill Russell is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 6

Years With Franchise: 1956–1969

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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#11 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #31 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #2 of 133 The Best Boston Celtics of All Time

7
Hakeem Olajuwon is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 34

Years With Franchise: 1984–2001

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

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#10 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #1,178 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #1 of 168 The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time

8
Magic Johnson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 32

Years With Franchise: 1979–1991, 1996

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

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#5 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #9 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #26 of 113 The Most Influential Contemporary Americans

9
Shaquille O'Neal is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 34 (Lakers), 32(Heat)

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

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

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#8 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #143 of 256 Celebrities Who Should Run for President #1,333 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

10
Julius Erving is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

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

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

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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#525 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #1,051 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #1,007 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time

11
Allen Iverson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 3

Years With Franchise: 1996–2006, 2009–2010

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

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#13 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #1 of 151 The Best NBA Players With No Championship Rings #1,534 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time

12
Tim Duncan is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 21

Years With Franchise: 1997–2016
 

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#6 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #1,636 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #72 of 97 The Most Likable Players In The NBA Today

13
Oscar Robertson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 1

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

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

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#35 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #556 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #5 of 178 The Greatest Shooting Guards in NBA History

14
Reggie Miller is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 31

Years With Franchise: 1987–2005

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

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#32 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #7 of 151 The Best NBA Players With No Championship Rings #10 of 178 The Greatest Shooting Guards in NBA History

15
Jerry West is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 44

Years With Franchise: 1960–1974

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

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#16 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #1,503 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #4 of 178 The Greatest Shooting Guards in NBA History

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

Number: 13

Years With Franchise: 1996–1998, 2004–2012

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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#24 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #5 of 151 The Best NBA Players With No Championship Rings #383 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time

17
Scottie Pippen is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 33

Years With Franchise: 1987–1998, 2003–2004

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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#22 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #1,868 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #91 of 94 The Most Overrated Players In The NBA Today

18
Karl Malone is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 32

Years With Franchise: 1985–2003

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

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#14 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #3 of 151 The Best NBA Players With No Championship Ringslisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

19
Charles Barkley is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 34

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

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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20
John Havlicek is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 17

Years With Franchise: 1962–1978

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

 

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#28 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #1,507 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

21
Pete Maravich is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 44 (Hawks), 7 (Jazz)

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

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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#25 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #12 of 151 The Best NBA Players With No Championship Rings #129 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time

22
Isiah Thomas is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 11

Years With Franchise: 1981–1994

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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#29 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #1,119 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #63 of 343 The Most Obnoxious Athletes

23
Patrick Ewing is listed (or ranked) 23 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.

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#27 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #6 of 151 The Best NBA Players With No Championship Rings #2,172 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time

24
David Robinson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 50

Years With Franchise: 1989–2003

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

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#19 of 873 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #1,033 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #7 of 168 The Greatest NBA Centers of All Time

25
Tim Hardaway is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired