NBA Countdown: Which player wore No. 44 best in league history?

Which NBA player wore No. 44 best?
Which NBA player wore No. 44 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 44 days until the season opener on Oct. 22. So, who wore No. 44 best?

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Shoutouts

Danny Ainge, a 1988 All-Star who won two titles in Boston, once trolled himself by sporting an “I HATE DANNY AINGE” T-shirt with his No. 44 crossed out.

Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje and Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Hall of Fame names.

Derrick Coleman, the 1991 Rookie of the Year and a two-time All-NBA selection, was an absolute beast of a big man and had his No. 44 retired by Syracuse.

Sam Lacey, a 1975 All-Star, had his No. 44 retired by the Sacramento Kings.

Christian Laettner and Cherokee Parks, who certainly had a weird relationship.

Brian Scalabrinethe Human Victory Cigar.

Ralph Simpson, a five-time ABA All-Star who makes me think of Ralph from “The Simpsons.”

Rod Thorn, a player, coach, Executive of the Year and the architect of the 1992 U.S. Olympic “Dream Team,” wore No. 44 for much of his eight-year playing career.

Caveats

Dave Bing, a Hall of Famer, wore No. 21 for all seven of his All-Star seasons on the Pistons and Bullets, before switching to 44 for the final year of his career in Boston.

Adrian Dantley, a Hall of Famer, wore No. 44 as a rookie with the Buffalo Braves, before switching to No. 4 and become a perennial All-Star with the Utah Jazz.

Elvin Hayes, a Hall of Famer, only made one of his 12 All-Star appearances wearing No. 44 for Houston. All the others came in No. 11 for the San Diego Rockets and Washington Bullets. Hayes does get credit for just having “E” — with the quotation marks — on the back of his No. 44 jersey in place of his name.

Don Nelson, a Hall of Famer turned marijuana farmer, wore No. 44 as a rookie for the Chicago Zephyrs, turned to No. 19 in Boston, where he won all five of his rings.

Drazen Petrovic, a Hall of Famer, 1993 All-NBA selection and Croatian legend whose life was tragically cut short by a car accident at age 28, wore No. 44 with the Portland Trail Blazers before taking No. 3 and blossoming on the New Jersey Nets.

David Thompson, yet another Hall of Famer, wore No. 33 for four of his five All-Star campaigns, only turning to 44 when he joined the Seattle SuperSonics. Drug issues and a knee injury — suffered upon being shoved down a Studio 54 staircase — ended his career at age 29, so it seems like maybe he should have stuck with 33.

Currently

Bojan Bogdanovic, who just scored a sweet $73 million contract from the Jazz this summer, sported No. 44 in Indiana last season and is the active jersey champ, barring a number change. He may have to hold off 2018 first-round pick Robert Williams III, a.k.a. The Timelord, who adopted Ainge’s old number on the Celtics.

Challengers

George Gervin, a.k.a. The Iceman, a Hall of Famer and four-time scoring champion, finger-rolled his way to all 12 of his All-Star appearances (three ABA, nine NBA) wearing the No. 44. His jersey is retired by the San Antonio Spurs.

Dan Issel, a Hall of Hamer and 1975 ABA champion, wore No. 44 for most of his 15-year career, which resulted in seven All-Star appearances (six ABA, one NBA). His No. 44 jersey is retired by both the University of Kentucky and Denver Nuggets.

Pete Maravich, a.k.a. Pistol Pete, a Hall of Famer and the 1977 NBA scoring champion, sported No. 44 for the first half of a dazzling career. He was Stephen Curry before Stephen Curry and had his No. 44 retired by the Atlanta Hawks.

Paul Westphal, inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, wore No. 44 for the entirety of a career that saw five All-Star appearances, the 1974 championship and “the greatest game ever played.” His jersey is retired by the Phoenix Suns.

The Jersey Champion

Jerry West. I mean, the guy is the NBA logo. Need we say more? We will, actually. West wore No. 44 for the entirety of a legendary 14-year career on the Los Angeles Lakers — every one of them an All-Star season. West captured 1969 Finals MVP honors in a losing effort and finally broke through for a championship in 1972. He led the league in scoring in 1970 and assists two years later. The guy was the greatest two-guard in NBA history before a guy named Michael Jordan came along. Needless to say, he’s a Hall of Famer. Oh, and he is arguably the best executive in league history, winning two Executive of the Year honors and eight more titles.

Way to go, Logo.

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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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