Sports

The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired 

Ranker Sports
Updated July 25, 2019 2.7k votes 127 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.

More Michael Jordan 

#5 of 158 The Best NBA Player Nicknames #461 of 523 The Best Baseball Players NOT in the Hall of Fame 16 Crazy Stories and Rumors About Michael Jordan

2
Wilt Chamberlain is listed (or ranked) 2 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.
 

More Wilt Chamberlain 

#357 of 571 Things That Are Not As Cool As People Think They Are 18 Unbelievable But True Stories from the Buckwild Life of Wilt Chamberlainlisted on Famous Black Conservatives List

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

More Larry Bird 

#19 of 158 The Best NBA Player Nicknames #56 of 2,198 The Best Athletes Of All Timelisted on Famous Left Handed People

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.
 

More Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 

#63 of 158 The Best NBA Player Nicknames #111 of 267 The All-Time Greatest Martial Arts Actors

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.

More Bill Russell 

#26 of 2,198 The Best Athletes Of All Time #290 of 292 The Most Obnoxious Athleteslisted on Left Handed Basketball Players

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.
 

More Hakeem Olajuwon 

#6 of 158 The Best NBA Player Nicknames #1,172 of 2,198 The Best Athletes 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.
 

More Magic Johnson 

#3 of 55 The Best No. 1 Overall NBA Draft Picks of All Time, Ranked #24 of 2,198 The Best Athletes Of All Time

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.
 

More Shaquille O'Neal 

#1,449 of 2,830 The Most Influential People of All Time #671 of 770 American Public Figures Who Are National Treasures #18 of 158 The Best NBA Player Nicknames

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.

More Julius Erving 

#1 of 158 The Best NBA Player Nicknames #59 of 113 The Most Influential Contemporary Americans #6 of 2,198 The Best Athletes Of All Time

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

Number: 21

Years With Franchise: 1997–2016
 

More Tim Duncan 

#31 of 158 The Best NBA Player Nicknames #1,325 of 2,198 The Best Athletes Of All Time

12
Allen Iverson is listed (or ranked) 12 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.
 

More Allen Iverson 

#8 of 158 The Best NBA Player Nicknames #3 of 21 The Best NBA Players Who Rap, Ranked

13
Reggie Miller is listed (or ranked) 13 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.
 

More Reggie Miller 

#229 of 292 The Most Obnoxious Athletes #10 of 178 The Greatest Shooting Guards in NBA History

14
Jerry West is listed (or ranked) 14 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.
 

More Jerry West 

#27 of 858 The Top NBA Players Of All Time #5 of 178 The Greatest Shooting Guards in NBA History

15
Oscar Robertson is listed (or ranked) 15 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.
 

More Oscar Robertson 

#7 of 55 The Best No. 1 Overall NBA Draft Picks of All Time, Ranked #7 of 858 The Top NBA Players Of All Time

16
Karl Malone is listed (or ranked) 16 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.
 

More Karl Malone 

#50 of 292 The Most Obnoxious Athletes #29 of 858 The Top NBA Players Of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

17
Steve Nash is listed (or ranked) 17 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.

More Steve Nash 

#53 of 158 The Best NBA Player Nicknames #3 of 107 The Best Foreign NBA Players of All Time

18
Scottie Pippen is listed (or ranked) 18 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.

More Scottie Pippen 

#1,609 of 2,198 The Best Athletes Of All Time #1 of 22 The Best Small Forwards of the 90s

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.

More Charles Barkley 

#15 of 158 The Best NBA Player Nicknames #30 of 858 The Top NBA Players Of All Time 22 Times Charles Barkley Made Everyone LOL

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.

 

More John Havlicek 

#21 of 178 The Greatest Shooting Guards in NBA History #7 of 239 The Best White Players in NBA Historylisted 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.

More Pete Maravich 

#3 of 158 The Best NBA Player Nicknames #34 of 2,198 The Best Athletes Of All Time #21 of 858 The Top NBA Players Of All Time

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

Number: 10

Years With Franchise: 1967–1977

Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
 

More Walt Frazier 

#34 of 158 The Best NBA Player Nicknames #20 of 858 The Top NBA Players Of All Time

23
Isiah Thomas is listed (or ranked) 23 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.

More Isiah Thomas 

#26 of 32 The Best NBA Shooting Guards of the 90s #127 of 292 The Most Obnoxious Athletes

24
Tim Hardaway is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best NBA Players To Have Their Numbers Retired
25
David Robinson is listed (or ranked) 25 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.
 

More David Robinson 

#16 of 158 The Best NBA Player Nicknames #9 of 55 The Best No. 1 Overall NBA Draft Picks of All Time, Ranked #990 of 2,198 The Best Athletes Of All Time