NBA Countdown: Which player wore No. 16 best in league history?

Which NBA player wore No. 16 best?
Which NBA player wore No. 16 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 16 days until the season opener on Oct. 22. So, who wore No. 16 best?

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Shoutouts

Al Attles, inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, his 60th in service to the Golden State Warriors in various capacities, wore No. 16 throughout his 11-year playing career with the franchise. The Warriors retired the jersey of their third title-winning coach.

Dick Garmaker, whose strong name we have also lauded at Nos. 18 and 17, wore a No. 16 Minneapolis Lakers jersey in all four of his All-Star appearances. The Lakers rewarded him by trading him two days after his fourth and final All-Star bid.

Bob Harrison, who once scored all of his eighth-grade team’s points in a 139-8 victory over 32 minutes, wore No. 16 before Garmaker for his three championships with the Minneapolis Lakers, but not his 1956 All-Star campaign on the St. Louis Hawks.

Red Holzman, a Hall of Fame coach, won National Basketball League and NBA titles wearing No. 16 for the Rochester Royals. He has only one number retired in his honor — 613, the number of games he won over a 15-year span coaching the New York Knicks, who he steered to a pair of championships in the early 1970s.

Al McGuire, the Hall of Fame coach of Marquette turned legendary college basketball broadcaster, wore No. 16 for a three-year stint with the New York Knicks, with whom he was routinely abused by fellow New York City schoolboy Bob Cousy.

Red Rocha, a.k.a. the Tower of the Thrill Kids, a hook shot god and the first person from Hawaii to play in the NBA, wore No. 16 for one of his two All-Star campaigns.

John Salley, a vegan activist and marijuana entrepreneur, wore No. 22 throughout his career, left the NBA for three seasons, and then returned in a No. 16 Lakers jersey to win the fourth title of his career. Not a bad way to make a comeback. He won rings with the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons, Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and the Shaq-and-Kobe Lakers in three different decades.

Peja Stojaković, maybe the most underrated sharpshooter in NBA history, sported No. 16 for his entire 13-year career, including five different franchises, three All-Star appearances and a 2011 title run. His jersey is retired by the Sacramento Kings.

Caveats

Bailey Howell, a Hall of Famer and arguably the greatest offensive rebounder in NBA history, only wore No. 16 on the Philadelphia 76ers for his 12th and final season, after a string of six All-Star appearances and two championships elsewhere.

Johnny Green, a four-time All-Star and popular McDonald’s franchisee, only sported No. 16 for a 35-game stretch with the Sixers, between All-Star appearances on the New York Knicks and Cincinnati Royals wearing Nos. 11 and 20, respectively.

Currently

Pau Gasol, the future Hall of Famer, will return to No. 16 this season after an 18-year run in the jersey was interrupted by a three-game stint last season in a No. 17 Milwaukee Bucks jersey. Gasol’s six All-Star appearances, two titles and 2002 Rookie of the Year award, all won wearing No. 16, give him the active nod over Nos. 16 James Johnson, Tyler Johnson and Cedi Osman.

Challengers

Larry Foust, the only eligible player with eight All-Star appearances not in the Hall of Fame, averaged a double-double over a 12-year career, seven of which were spent in a No. 16 Fort Wayne Pistons jersey.

Cliff Hagan, a Hall of Famer, wore No. 16 for all but his rookie season in a 13-year career that saw six All-Star appearances and the 1958 NBA championship. It is wild that the St. Louis Hawks acquired Hagan and Ed Macauley — a pair of Hall of Famers, one in his prime and one just beginning his career — in the same trade and still ended up on the losing end of a deal.

Jerry Lucas, a Hall of Famer and Ohio State teammate of No. 17 jersey champion John Havlicek, wore No. 16 for his six-plus seasons on the Cincinnati Royals, a run that included his 1964 Rookie of the Year campaign and six of his seven All-Star appearances. He later won a title wearing No. 32 for the Knicks, making him a champion and decorated star at every level from high school to college to the Olympics and the NBA. Known as “Dr. Memory,” Lucas is also a legendary basketball mind.

Satch Sanders, a Hall of Famer and often the forgotten start of the NBA’s greatest dynasty, wore No. 16 for all 13 of his seasons on the Boston Celtics — a career that saw eight championships. His jersey hangs in the TD Garden rafters.

The Jersey Champion

Bob Lanier would be higher on the list of all-time greats if 1) he did not require eight knee surgeries during his career, 2) if a Detroit Pistons team in disarray did not land the No. 1 overall pick in 1970 and 3) if he did not smoke cigarettes at halftime. Still, the dude who wore a size 22 shoe made eight All-Star appearances in a Hall of Fame career, averaging 23.9 points (on better than 50 percent shooting), 12.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.2 combined blocks and steals over a seven-year period. The man was so good that both the Pistons and Bucks retired his No. 16.

Cheers, Lanier.

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

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