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 two days until the season opener on Tuesday. So, who wore No. 2 best?
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Junior Bridgeman, whose No. 2 was retired by the Milwaukee Bucks after a decade with the franchise. He is perhaps better known for turning a peak salary of $350,000 into a half-billion dollars upon selling roughly 300 Wendy’s and Chili’s franchises.
Joe Barry Carroll, the No. 1 overall pick in 1980, which fetched the Boston Celtics both Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.
Derek Fisher, a five-time champion and the bane of Matt Barnes’ existence.
Joe Johnson, a.k.a. Iso Joe, a seven-time All-Star and BIG3 MVP who is as borderline a Hall of Famer as there could ever be.
Norm Van Lier, a.k.a. Stormin’ Norman, a three-time All-Star and eight-time All-Defensive selection turned “Barbershop” actor.
Mo Williams, one of the most random All-Stars in NBA history.
Rick Barry, a Hall of Famer and underhand free-throw artist, sported No. 2 for the only two seasons he was not an All-Star.
Kevin Garnett, the soon-to-be Hall of Famer, who wore No. 2 for two seasons on the Brooklyn Nets in honor of Malik Sealy.
Jason Kidd, another Hall of Famer, donned No. 2 for four-plus seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, winning his lone title in the jersey, but he made nine of his 10 All-Star appearances wearing Nos. 5 and 32 for the Mavericks, Nets and Phoenix Suns.
Gary Payton, yet another Hall of Famer, wore No. 2 for his first two seasons on the Seattle Sonics before switching to No. 20.
Chris Webber, the should-be Hall of Famer, wore No. 2 in his first season with the Washington Bullets before returning to No. 4.
Kawhi Leonard, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year and two-time Finals MVP, is maybe the best player in the game right now, let alone the best in a No. 2 jersey. He cemented his Hall of Fame legacy by leading a second team to a title, demolishing a second super-team in the process. There are a dearth of great Nos. 2, especially since Irving switched numbers and John Wall suffered a devastating Achilles injury. Lonzo Ball and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander might be the number’s best hope for the future.
Alex English, the Hall of Famer and “Amazing Grace and Chuck” star, sported Nos. 22 and 23 for his first three-plus seasons before adopting No. 2 on the Denver Nuggets, with whom he made eight straight All-Star appearances and won the 1983 scoring title. The Nuggets retired English’s No. 2 after he set nearly ever offensive record for the franchise.
Moses Malone, a Hall of Famer and a pioneering preps-to-pros player, wore eight different numbers in his 21-year career, but No. 2 more than any other. On the Philadelphia 76ers, who retired his No. 2, Malone made four All-Star appearances in four seasons, winning the last of his three MVP honors and his only Finals MVP in a 1983 title campaign. He also wore No. 2 for late-career stints with the Atlanta Hawks and San Antonio Spurs, but eight of his 13 All-Star appearances came in different jerseys.
Mitch Richmond, a Hall of Famer and one third of Run TMC, donned No. 2 for 10 of his 14 seasons. He made all six of his All-Star Games in the jersey, but wore No. 23 for the 1989 Rookie of the Year campaign and 2002 title that bookended his career. His No. 2 is retired by the Sacramento Kings.
The Jersey Champion
Leonard, and this may be recency bias, but his playoff performance for the Toronto Raptors last season was on par with LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird in terms of exerting his will on the game from the wing position. If he stays healthy with the Los Angeles Clippers and rattles off a string of All-Star campaigns, he will belong among those all-time greats. If he wins a third Finals MVP in leading a third franchise to a title? Well, then we are having another conversation entirely. And if he does not make another All-Star team in his career, he still has more titles in a No. 2 jersey than his three challengers combined.
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