NBA Countdown: Which player wore No. 12 best in league history?

Which NBA player wore No. 12 best?
Which NBA player wore No. 12 best?

We are inside of one month until the start of the 2019-20 NBA season, when the league’s many new superstar pairings will finally be unveiled. What better way to pass the time than to count down the final 55 days by arguing over who wore each jersey number best until we reach No. 00.

There are currently 12 days until the season opener on Oct. 22. So, who wore No. 12 best?



Dick Barnett, aka Skull, a 1968 All-Star, two-time champ and fadeaway pioneer. His No. 12 is retired by the New York Knicks.

Ralph Beard, All-NBA in each of his first two seasons; banned for life as part of the 1951 NCAA point-shaving scandal.

Vince Boryla, aka Moose, who wore No. 12 for the New York Knicks in the NBA’s first All-Star Game in 1951.

Bruce Bowen, maybe the most annoying defender in NBA history, to put it kindly, wore No. 12 for all eight of his All-Defensive campaigns, including a trio of championship seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, who retired his jersey.

Don Chaney, a two-time champion and five-time All-Defensive selection, is the only player to have played with both Bill Russell and Larry Bird, wearing No. 12 during both tours of duty with the Boston Celtics and bookending a 12-year career.

Howie Dallmar, who led Stanford to an NCAA title as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player before winning a Basketball Association of America title as an All-BAA selection in a No. 12 Philadelphia Warriors jersey.

Vlade Divac, the Hall of Famer and Team Yugoslavia legend, wore No. 12 for the first nine years of his career, sandwiching his trade from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Charlotte Hornets that sent Kobe Bryant to L.A. He made his only All-Star appearance for the Sacramento Kings, who retired the No. 21 jersey he wore for them in the early 2000s.

Mike Gale, a 1974 ABA champion and two-time All-Defensive selection who had a glorious Afro.

Derek Harper, a two-time All-Defensive selection who once pulled a J.R. Smith in the playoffs, has his No. 12 retired in Dallas.

Chris Herren, the inspirational motivational speaker, donned No. 12 for a lone addiction-plagued season with the Celtics.

Warren Jabali, a legend in Hall of Famer Rick Barry’s eyes, wore No. 12 for two of his four ABA All-Star seasons.

Fat Lever, a two-time All-Star and triple-double artist who once posted a playoff 19-16-18, has his No. 12 retired in Denver.

Press Maravich, the father of Hall of Famer Pete Maravich.

Pat Riley, the Hall of Fame coach, sported No. 12 in his six-year run as a player with the Lakers.

Kenny Sears, a two-time All-Star with the Knicks and the first basketball player to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Evan Turner, quote machine.


Michael Jordan, the GOAT, wore a nameless No. 12 jersey for a single game against the Orlando Magic on Feb. 14, 1990, when somebody stole his traditional No. 23 jersey. He scored 49 points in defeat.

Jo Jo White, a Hall of Famer, U.S. Marine and Dallas Cowboys draft pick, wore No. 12 for 13 games with the Kansas City Kings, two stops after making seven All-Star appearances and winning a pair of championships in a No. 10 Celtics jersey.

Dominique Wilkins, the Hall of Famer and dunk contest god, sported No. 12 for his lone season with the Celtics, a campaign that spelled the end of his string of nine-straight All-Star appearances and represented the start of his steep decline.


LaMarcus Aldridge, the self-proclaimed boring All-Star, has donned No. 12 for the entirety of his 13-year career, which makes him the choice for best active player to wear the number — ahead of guys like Steven Adams, Joe Harris and Terry Rozier.


Dwight Howard, simultaneously a future Hall of Famer and massive disappointment, sported No. 12 for 13 of his first 15 seasons, including his eight All-Star appearances, three Defensive Player of the Year campaigns and 2008 slam dunk title.

Maurice Stokes, an All-Star in each of his first three seasons before a fall in the final game of the 1957-58 regular season paralyzed him, has his No. 12 retired by the Sacramento Kings. Supported by fellow Cincinnati Royal Jack Twyman for the remainder of his life, Stokes joins Twyman as both halves of the namesake for the NBA’s Teammate of the Year award.

George Yardley, a Hall of Famer and one of the game’s first showman, donned No. 12 for the entirety of a seven-year career, making six All-Star appearances and becoming the NBA’s first player ever to score 2,000 points in a single season.

The Jersey Champion

John Stockton, a Hall of Famer and maybe the unlikeliest all-timer, sported No. 12 throughout a remarkably durable 19-year career. He holds NBA career records for both assists and steals by such a wide margin that it is hard to imagine anyone ever catching him in either regard. (Chris Paul trails Stockton by 6,625 career assists — more than Paul’s total assists in all nine of his All-Star seasons). Stockton’s 14.5 assists per game in 1989-90 are also a single-season record. He is a 10-time All-Star, five-time All-Defensive pick and one of the greatest point guards ever. His No. 12 is retired by both the Utah Jazz and Gonzaga.

Salud, Stock.

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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