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 35 days until the season opener on Oct. 22. So, who wore No. 35 best?
Bill Ray Bates, a player whose basketball career sputtered under the nickname Dunk but later thrived under the moniker Black Superman in the Philippines, where in the 1980s he was their Michael Jordan on the court and Wilt Chamberlain off of it. His story — a tragic one that saw scoring averages of 55 points per game and featured cocaine, pregame beers and a gas station robbery at knife-point — is wild.
Jason Caffey, Earl Cureton, Danny Ferry, Kevin Grevey, Scott Hastings, Kim Hughes, Grady Lewis, Mark Madsen, McCoy McLemore, Adam Morrison and Larry Spriggs, who all won championships wearing No. 35 in disparate roles.
Larry Cannon, who wore No. 35 during his 1971 All-ABA campaign.
Brian Cardinal, who wore No. 35 on the 2011 NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, for whom his comic relief inspired Dirk Nowitzki’s turnaround in the Finals clincher.
Darel Carrier, a three-time ABA All-Star.
Jason Collins, the NBA’s first openly gay player, wore No. 35 for the first six-plus seasons of a 13-year career.
Darrell Griffith, the 1981 Rookie of the Year whose No. 35 is retired by the Utah Jazz.
Les Hunter, who wore No. 35 for one of his two ABA All-Star campaigns — with the Minnesota Muskies in 1968-69.
Cincinnatus Powell, who wore No. 35 for the first of his two ABA All-Star seasons.
Bill Bridges, who wore No. 35 for a single season, sported different numbers en route to three All-Star selections, two All-Defensive nods and the 1975 NBA title.
Billy Knight, Swen Nater and Levern Tart, all one-time Nos. 35 and two-time All-Stars who did not wear the number for either of their peak seasons.
Woody Sauldsberry wore No. 35 with the Chicago Zephyrs from 1962-63, between earning Rookie of the Year and an All-Star nod and winning the 1966 NBA title. A career 35 percent shooter, he has fewer win shares than anyone in NBA history.
Marvin Bagley III, the No. 2 overall pick in 2018 and a rising star for the Sacramento Kings, averaged 15 points and eight rebounds as a rookie. He narrowly gets the nod as the best active No. 35 over Montrezl Harrell, if on potential alone.
Roger Brown, a Hall of Fame inductee who was once banned by the NBA for an unsubstantiated link to the 1961 NCAA point-shaving scandal, sported No. 35 in all eight of his ABA seasons, including four All-Star campaigns and three titles with the Indiana Pacers. His No. 35 is retired in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse rafters.
Reggie Lewis, a 1992 All-Star and rising star whose career was cut short by a heart attack at age 27, wore No. 35 for each of his six NBA seasons. The Boston Celtics retired his number in memoriam.
Larry Kenon, a.k.a. Special K, a five-time All-Star, 1974 ABA champion and playing partner to Julius Erving and George Gervin, wore No. 35 in each of his 10 seasons.
Rudy LaRusso, a.k.a. Roughhouse Rudy, an Ivy League grad who made a mid-career cameo appearance on a Gilligan’s Island episode in 1964, wore No. 35 for his entire 10-year career with the Lakers and Warriors, including five All-Star bids.
Paul Silas, who sported four different numbers in his 16 NBA seasons, wore No. 35 for one of his two All-Star campaigns, three of his five All-Defensive selections and all three of his championships in the 1970s — two in Boston and one in Seattle.
The Jersey Champion
Kevin Durant, he of the terrible torn Achilles in Game 5 of this year’s NBA Finals, has worn No. 35 for the entirety of a career that is bound for all-time greatness. His résumé already includes the 2008 Rookie of the Year trophy, the 2014 MVP, two championships (and two Finals MVPs), four scoring titles and 10 All-Star selections. Golden State has already announced that no Warrior will ever wear No. 35 again. The soon-to-be 31-year-old Durant, who will wear No. 7 for the Brooklyn Nets, could never play another game wearing 35 and still be the easy jersey champion.
Get well soon, KD.
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