We are inside of one week 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 four days until the season opener on Tuesday. So, who wore No. 4 best?
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Chris Bosh, a future Hall of Famer, made five of his 11 All-Star appearances in a No. 4 Toronto Raptors jersey. He adopted No. 1 upon joining LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the Miami Heat, with whom he earned six more All-Star selections and won a pair of titles in four straight trips to the NBA Finals. Miami retired his jersey not long after blood clots abruptly ended his career.
Nick Collison, the last connection to the Seattle SuperSonics on the Oklahoma City Thunder, had his No. 4 retired in OKC after his 14 years of service to the franchise, mostly as a backup big. The best evity is longevity or something like that.
Michael Finley, the two-time All-Star and critically acclaimed producer, wore No. 4 for all but the last half of his 15th and final season, peaking with the Dallas Mavericks and winning a championship with the San Antonio Spurs in the jersey.
Ron Harper, the five-time champion and apple of my man Kelly Dwyer’s eye, wore No. 4 for all but his four seasons on Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, winning a pair of late-career titles with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Antawn Jamison, whose first name was the result of a hospital’s misspelling, made two All-Star appearances with the Washington Wizards in a No. 4 jersey. He won his Sixth Man of the Year award wearing No. 33 for the Dallas Mavericks.
Wendall Ladner, the two-time ABA All-Star and 1974 ABA champion who likened himself to Burt Reynolds and served as an inspiration for Will Ferrell’s “Semi-Pro,” had his No. 4 retired by the Nets after dying in a plane crash at the age of 26.
Jerry Sloan, the Hall of Fame former coach of the Utah Jazz whose path to the NBA is quite something, has his No. 4 retired by the Chicago Bulls. He earned two All-Star nods and six All-Defensive selections in a decade playing for the franchise.
Jim Paxson, a two-time All-Star, wore No. 4 throughout an 11-year career. Solid players, not-so-solid execs, those Paxsons.
Kenny Sailors, a jump-shooting pioneer, wore No. 4 en route to an All-Basketball Association of America selection in the 1940s.
Luis Scola, a member of Argentina’s golden generation, donned No. 4 for all but one of his 10 seasons Stateside. What a welcome sight to see him still plying his trade for Team Argentina en route to a silver medal at this year’s FIBA World Cup.
Byron Scott, a three-time champion on the Showtime Lakers and apparent “Basketball Wives” star, wore No. 4 for 14 seasons.
Rony Seikaly, the 1990 Most Improved Player and professional DJ, sported No. 4 for three of his four teams.
Walter Simon, a 1969 ABA All-Star, wore No. 4 on the New York Nets before becoming Kentucky Fried Chicken’s vice president.
Isaiah Thomas, the best under 6-foot player in basketball history and author of the single greatest performance I have ever seen live on a basketball court, donned No. 4 for three glorious seasons on the Boston Celtics, including a pair of All-Star bids, before essentially risking a max contract and his career by playing through a hip injury for the sake of the franchise, only to be traded.
Spud Webb, the 1986 slam dunk champion and another legendary short guy, sported No. 4 for his entire 12-year NBA career.
Charles Barkley, a Hall of Fame player and bombastic broadcaster, only wore No. 4 in his last chapter on the Houston Rockets.
Rick Barry, a Hall of Famer and lord of the underhand free throw, wore No. 4 for the only two seasons he was not an All-Star.
Shawn Kemp, a.k.a. Reign Man, one of the most vicious dunkers the game has ever seen, turned from No. 40 to No. 4 for three seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, which spelled the beginning of the end for what might have been a Hall of Fame career.
Clyde Lovellette, a Hall of Famer, only sported No. 4 for one of his two title-winning seasons with the Celtics.
Moses Malone, a Hall of Famer who may have been less committed to one number than anyone, wearing eight different numbers in his career, wore No. 4 in his two-year stint with the Washington Bullets (both among his 13 All-Star campaigns).
Andy Phillip, the Hall of Famer and World War II veteran, only wore No. 4 for half a season with the Fort Wayne Pistons between his All-Star runs, and then switched to No. 14 for the rest of his tenure with the franchise that would eventually move to Detroit.
Victor Oladipo, the 27-year-old two-time All-Star and soul singer, is the best active player in a No. 4 jersey, at least until his return from a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee potentially proves otherwise, because him at his best is better than what Paul Millsap can do at this point in his career and what Derrick White has proven he can do on a consistent basis.
Carl Braun, a Hall of Fame basketball player and the inventor of the term “swish,” sported No. 4 for the entirety of a 13-year career that saw him make five straight All-Star appearances after two years of military service interrupted his NBA career. If that is not an impressive enough résumé, the Brooklyn native also briefly pitched in the New York Yankees minor-league system.
Adrian Dantley, the Hall of Famer who helped end UCLA’s 88-game win streak, donned No. 4 in 11 of his 15 seasons, including a string of six All-Star bids in seven years with the Utah Jazz. A remarkably efficient scorer, he won a pair of scoring titles in a No. 4 jersey that is now retired in Utah. His 1977 Rookie of the Year campaign came while wearing No. 44 for the Buffalo Braves.
Joe Dumars, the Hall of Famer who helped deliver titles to the Detroit Pistons as both a player and executive, wore No. 4 throughout a 14-year career spent entirely in Detroit. He is the only Pistons player ever to wear No. 4 and the only one who will ever wear it. As one half of one of the best backcourts in NBA history, he collected six All-Star appearances, five All-Defensive selections and two titles, including 1989 Finals MVP honors. Michael Jordan called Dumars the best defender he ever faced.
Sidney Moncrief, a Hall of Famer and maybe the most underrated shooting guard in NBA history, wore No. 4 for all but his comeback season with the Atlanta Hawks. His jersey is retired by the Milwaukee Bucks, with whom he made five All-Star appearances and captured a pair of Defensive Player of the Year awards. Jordan had a healthy respect for his defense, too.
Chris Webber, a should-be Hall of Famer, is the guy I would pick as the greatest No. 4 ever if I were only going by guys I idolized. His career was the basketball version of a Shakespearean tragedy, marked by his ill-fated timeout with the Fab Five. His best title chance may or may not have been derailed by Tim Donaghy in 2002, and he somehow only made five All-Star teams in a career all too often marred by injuries and a desire to play somewhere shinier. His No. 4 is retired by the Sacramento Kings.
The Jersey Champion
Dolph Schayes, a Hall of Famer, switched to No. 4 after his rookie season and proceeded to submit 12 consecutive All-Star seasons sandwiched around a 1955 championship campaign. Also a 12-time First or Second Team All-NBA selection, Schayes was something of a stretch big slash point forward hybrid with one of the last two-handed set shots. His career with the Syracuse Nationals spanned the National Basketball League, the dawn of the NBA in 1950 and the franchise’s evolution into the Philadelphia 76ers for the 1963-64 season, when he was their player-coach. His No. 4 is retired in Philadelphia.
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