We are inside of two months 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 these final 55 days by arguing over who wore each jersey number best until we reach No. 00.
There are currently 34 days until the season opener on Oct. 22. So, who wore No. 34 best?
Mel Daniels, a Hall of Famer and the first-ever first-round pick to snub the NBA for the ABA, wore No. 34 every season but one over a nine-year career in the alternate league that included seven All-Star selections, three championships and two MVPs. The ABA’s all-time leading rebounder, his No. 34 is retired by the Indiana Pacers.
Clyde Lovellette, another Hall of Famer, donned No. 34 for all four of his All-Star seasons with the Minneapolis Lakers and St. Louis Hawks. He was the first player ever to win an NCAA championship, an Olympic gold medal and an NBA title. Fellow Hall of Famers Bill Russell, K.C. Jones, Jerry Lucas, Quinn Buckner, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan have since joined him in that regard. Good company.
Rick Carlisle, a championship player and coach who sported No. 34 in three seasons with the Boston Celtics during their mid-1980s heyday.
Austin Carr, a 1974 NBA All-Star whose career was interrupted by injuries, had his No. 34 retired by the Cleveland Cavaliers, for whom he now serves as an analyst.
Terry Cummings, a two-time NBA All-Star, wore No. 34 for five different teams over an 18-year career, including his prime seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Eddy Curry, who in No. 34 became an emblem for New York Knicks decrepitude.
Lee Davis, who played in the 1970 ABA All-Star Game despite averaging 2.5 points and 2.5 rebounds for the New Orleans Buccaneers that season, because for some reason he was named a replacement for injured teammate Red Robbins.
Devin Harris, who you may have forgotten was named a 2009 NBA All-Star, has worn No. 34 for the vast majority of a 15-year career that includes three tours of duty with the Dallas Mavericks. He was the world’s fastest man with a basketball.
Shaun Livingston, whose devastating knee injury stalled a career seemingly bound for stardom, wore No. 34 for his return to glory — a five-year stint with the Golden State Warriors that saw three NBA championships and a 73-win regular season. A legendary teammate, Livingston this week announced his retirement after 15 years.
Don MacLean, who did not write “American Pie,” the 1994 Most Improved Player, sported No. 34 when he captured the NBA’s 1994 Most Improved Player honor.
Xavier McDaniel, a.k.a., the X-Man, a 1988 NBA All-Star whose IMDb page includes “Singles” and “Married With Children,” donned No. 34 for three teams.
Doug Moe, an ABA champion, wore No. 34 for three different teams in his first three ABA seasons — all All-Star campaigns. Also the NBA’s 1988 Coach of the Year, Moe ran a seven-seconds-or-less offense in Denver before that was a thing.
Charles Oakley, a 1994 NBA All-Star and a legendary tough guy, wore No. 34 for the first 18 years of a 19-year career, including a decade with the 1990s Knicks.
Kenny “Sky” Walker, the 1989 slam dunk champion.
Bill Wennington, who won three titles with Michael Jordan’s late-1990s Chicago Bulls despite sporting a goatee that made him look like an eighties movie bully.
Corliss Williamson, a.k.a. Big Nasty, wore No. 34 for both his 2002 Sixth Man of the Year and 2004 NBA champion campaign with the Sacramento Kings and Detroit Pistons, respectively. I can specifically remember thinking his name was Cordless.
Pete Chilcutt, Fennis Dembo, Pickles Kennedy, Bevo Nordmann and Jim Spanarkel, great names all.
Wayne Embry, a Hall of Famer, only wore No. 34 as a rookie with the Cincinnati Royals in 1958-59 — not for his five All-Star seasons or 1968 NBA title campaign.
John Johnson, a point forward prototype, wore No. 34 for half a season with the Houston Rockets, between his two All-Star bids and 1979 NBA championship win.
LeVern “Jelly” Tart, the last player cut from a Boston Celtics team that won four of the next five NBA titles, wore No. 34 for the Oakland Oaks in the first-ever ABA game, played in the All-Star Game and was traded nine days later to the New Jersey Americans. He changed numbers and made one more ABA All-Star roster.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP, still only 24 years old (seriously how is that possible), has a legitimate chance to become the greatest No. 34 ever, and that is saying something, because there are some seriously incredible Nos. 34.
Ray Allen, a Hall of Famer, wore No. 34 with the Milwaukee Bucks and Seattle SuperSonics for the first seven of his 10 All-Star seasons, switched to No. 20 and won a title with the Boston Celtics, then changed back to 34 with the Miami Heat, for whom he made one of the great shots in NBA history and earned another ring.
Charles Barkley, also a Hall of Famer, wore No. 34 for 10 of his 11 All-Star bids, including his 1993 MVP campaign. His number is retired by both the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns, everlasting despite never wanting to be a role model.
Shaquille O’Neal, a.k.a. Shaq Fu, a.k.a. The Big Aristotle, yet another Hall of Famer, wore No. 34 on his way to the 2000 MVP selection, three straight championships and seven All-Star appearances with the Los Angeles Lakers. He wore No. 32, however, during eight more All-Star Games and his 2006 title run with the Miami Heat. His Nos. 32 and 34 are retired in Miami and L.A., respectively.
Paul Pierce, a.k.a. The Truth, a future Hall of Famer, wore No. 34 for all 19 of his NBA seasons, including 10 All-Star nods and a Finals MVP en route to the 2008 title with the Boston Celtics. He is maybe the only player ever to soil his uniform while wearing No. 34 — a number that now hangs much cleaner in the TD Garden rafters.
The Jersey Champion
Hakeem Olajuwon, inventor of the Dream Shake, wore No. 34 for the entirety of an 18-year career that included the 1994 MVP honor, two NBA championships (plus two Finals MVPs) and 12 All-Star appearances with the Houston Rockets. He is arguably the greatest foreign-born player in NBA history. You may be wondering how I could name him the jersey champion while saying Shaq had the better career, and the answer is easy: He stuck with the same number. Everyone wins in the end.
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