NBA Countdown: Which player wore No. 42 best in league history?

Which NBA player wore No. 42 best?
Which NBA player wore No. 42 best?

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 42 days until the season opener on Oct. 22. So, who wore No. 42 best?



Elton Brand, the No. 1 overall pick in 1999, 2000 Rookie of the Year and a two-time All-Star with the Los Angeles Clippers, wore No. 42 for 16 of his 17 seasons. He is the current general manager of the Eastern Conference favorite Philadelphia 76ers.

John Brisker, a two-time ABA All-Star, is one of basketball’s greatest mysteries. Following a career that included allegations that he brandished a gun at practice, Brisker left for Africa and was never heard from again, save for a 1978 phone call. Rumors about his disappearance range from Adi Amin to the Jonestown massacre.

Walt Hazzard, Theo Ratliff and Kevin Willis, all No. 42s in their lone All-Star bids.

Chris Ford, shotmaker of the first 3-pointer in NBA history.

David Lee, a two-time All-Star and 2015 NBA champion.

Pat Riley, the Hall of Fame coach and executive with nine championship rings in his various capacities, wore No. 42 for three seasons with the San Diego Rockets.

Jerry Stackhouse, a two-time All-Star, wore No. 42 for 17 of his 18 NBA seasons.

Roy Tarpley, the 1988 Sixth Man of the Year.

Scott Williams, a three-time champ as a backup big on the 1990s Chicago Bulls.

Willie Wise, a three-time ABA All-Star, two-time All-Defense pick and 1971 champ.

Lorenzen Wright, gone too soon.


Tom Chambers, a two-time All-Star and Sega Genesis legend, wore No. 24 during his prime, only adopting No. 42 in a pair of late-career years with the Utah Jazz.

Spencer Haywood, a Hall of Famer, wore No. 24 for his first six seasons, when he won both Rookie of the Year and MVP as a rookie in 1970 and made all five of his All-Star rosters, switched to No. 42 for a few years in New York before changing numbers again in his final NBA chapter, when he won a title with the L.A. Lakers.

Kevin Love earned Most Improved Player honors and his first three All-Star trips wearing No. 42 for the Minnesota Timberwolves, before switching to No. 0 on the Cleveland Cavaliers, with whom he became a champion alongside LeBron James.

Jack Marin, a two-time All-Star, also wore No. 24 during his prime with the Baltimore Bullets and, briefly, the Houston Rockets, before switching to No. 42.

Anthony Mason, A Sixth Man of the Year, All-Defensive selection and All-Star, wore No. 42 as a seldom-used rookie on the New Jersey Nets, before turning to No. 14 during his heyday with the New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat.


Al Horford, who may also be a legit challenger to the No. 42 throne, wore No. 42 — his father Tito’s number on the Washington Bullets — in his three seasons with the Celtics, making an All-Star appearance and a pair of Eastern Conference finals. While he has also adopted the number with the Philadelphia 76ers in his unending pursuit of a title, he wore No. 15 for his first nine seasons and four All-Star bids.


Vin Baker, whose career derailed due to alcoholism, wore No. 42 when he made four straight All-Star appearances before age 26. He blew $100 million before turning his life around and reemerging publicly as a member of Dennis Rodman’s “basketball diplomacy” effort in North Korea, a manager of a Starbucks and more recently as both a broadcaster and assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Nate Thurmond, a Hall of Famer, wore No. 42 for the entirety of his 14-year NBA career, which included seven All-Star appearances and five All-Defensive nods. His jersey is retired by both the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers.

James Worthy, another Hall of Famer, wore No. 42 for all 12 seasons he spent with the Lakers, wearing some sweet goggles and winning three championships with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. His jersey is retired at Staples Center. He Robin to Magic’s Batman was a tough choice to leave out of the top spot, but ...

The Jersey Champion

Connie Hawkins, a Hall of Famer and Rucker Park legend, wore No. 42 for the entirety of his nine-year career in the ABA and NBA, which included five All-Star appearances. Tied to the 1961 college basketball point-shaving scandal in a manner that later proved dubious, considering he was an ineligible freshman that season, Hawkins was essentially blackballed by the NBA, playing with the Harlem Globetrotters between winning MVPs in both the ABL and ABA. He finally realized his NBA dream at age 27 with the Phoenix Suns after winning his legal battle. Those who saw him will tell you he is the forgotten man in any GOAT debate.

Congrats, Connie.

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach