NBA Countdown: Which player wore No. 26 best in league history?

Which NBA player wore No. 26 best?
Which NBA player wore No. 26 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 26 days until the season opener on Oct. 22. So, who wore No. 26 best?

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Shoutouts

John Amaechi, the first former NBA player to come out publicly as gay, wore No. 26 with the Utah Jazz in 2002-03 — his final season in an eight-year pro career.

Shannon Brown, a two-time champion wearing No. 13 with the Los Angeles Lakers, turned to No. 26 for the final four seasons of a nine-year career.

Al Ferrari, who missed two years of his prime due to military service, wore No. 26 upon returning to the St. Louis Hawks. His service cost him the 1957-58 season, which resulted in a Hawks title courtesy of Bob Pettit, Cliff Hagan and Ed Macauley.

Tony Jaros, the namesake for a legendary Minneapolis dive bar, wore No. 26 as a rookie for the Basketball Association of America champion Chicago Stags, before switching to No. 13 and winning a title in three seasons on the Minneapolis Lakers.

Rich Johnson, who wore No. 26 as a rookie on the 1969 champion Boston Celtics.

Tom Owens, who played professionally for 14 years, wore No. 26 for a late-career season with the Indiana Pacers when they acquired him for a future first-round pick. That pick became the No. 2 overall selection in the 1984 NBA draft, where the Portland Trail Blazers infamously used it to select Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan. So, yeah, the Pacers traded the rights to the greatest player ever for Tom Owens.

Rick Weitzman, who played a single season in his NBA career, donned No. 26 and got a ring for playing sparingly in three playoff games with the 1967-68 Celtics.

David Wingate, a member of the greatest high school basketball team ever, wore 26 for seven games with the New York Knicks at the tail end of his 15-year career.

Caveats

George Lehmann, a sharpshooting ABA star, wore No. 26 with the Miami Floridians for a portion of the 1969-70 campaign — one year before becoming the first professional to post a 40-plus 3-point percentage for a season in Carolina.

Johnny McCarthy, a 1964 NBA champion who also missed a prime year due to military service, wore No. 26 for a single season with the Cincinnati Royals — a year before he became the first player to register a triple-double in his playoff debut.

Hudo Turkoglu, the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2008, wore No. 26 for a season on the Toronto Raptors — a year that resulted in a hungover benching and a public trade demand that made him one of the most despised players in franchise history.

Kermit Washington, a 1980 All-Star and the man who threw “The Punch” that nearly killed Rudy Tomjanovich, wore No. 26 for a half-season in Boston when he was dealt midseason by the Los Angeles Lakers immediately following the incident.

Currently

Kyle Korver, a 2015 All-Star who has worn No. 26 throughout his 16-year career, is expected to sport the number for a seventh franchise when he suits up for the Milwaukee Bucks this season. The 38-year-old easily gets the nod here, especially since burgeoning New York Knicks shot-blocking sensation Mitchell Robinson switched from No. 26 to 23 this summer to honor two childhood friends who died.

Challengers

Buddy Jeannette, the only Hall of Famer to ever wear No. 26, donned the number as a player-coach for the Baltimore Bullets during the Basketball Association of America’s three-year run (before its NBA merger), including a 1948 title campaign. Jeannette previously won three National Basketball League titles and earned four First Team All-NBL nods with the Sheboygan Red Skins and Fort Wayne Pistons before that league’s merger with the BAA. Basically, Buddy was an O.G. legend.

James Robinson, one of three Robinsons on the 1995-96 Portland Trail Blazers, wore No. 26 for five different teams over the course of his seven-year career. As you might be able to tell, not a lot of players wore No. 26, much less great players.

The Jersey Champion

Korver, who currently ranks fourth on the NBA’s all-time 3-point field goals list behind only Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Stephen Curry. Of those four, only Curry owns a better career 3-point percentage (43.6) than Korver (42.9), who also ranks ninth all-time in that regard. Korver would need at least two more productive seasons to catch Miller for total 3-pointers, thanks to a wild workout regimen that has included carrying boulders on the ocean floor. He is also on the NBA’s all-time hair team, an incredibly thoughtful guy, and the greatest No. 26 in NBA history.

Kudos, Kyle.

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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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