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 47 days until the season opener on Oct. 22. So, who wore No. 47 best?
Nobody! That’s three straight numbers that nobody wore in 2018-19. What do NBA players have against the late 40s? Is it a reminder of their basketball mortality? The BIG3 exists now, guys. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf is playing at age 50. I want a member of this rookie class to pick No. 47 and tell everyone that’s the age he’s going to play to. Tom Brady wants to play until he’s 45? Well, I’m going to play until 47. Take that.
A.J. Bramlett, a champion in the NCAA and Latvia, wore No. 47 in between — for all 61 minutes of his eight career games with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1999.
Dave Lattin, a famed member of the NCAA champion Texas Western squad that was immortalized in the 2006 film “Glory Road,” wore No. 47 as a rookie with the San Francisco Warriors, before abandoning the number and improving upon his average of 2.2 points a game. His college jersey is retired. Unfortunately, it’s No. 42.
Jerry Lucas, a Hall of Famer, wore No. 16 for his first six seasons with the Cincinnati Royals, all All-Star campaigns, before a midseason trade to the San Francisco Warriors. He adopted No. 47, missed the All-Star Game, and then abandoned it, picking up No. 32 and returning to the All-Star Game in 1971.
Tiago Splitter only wore No. 47 for the final season of his seven-year career, playing just eight games with the Philadelphia 76ers before announcing his retirement at age 32 due to a hip injury. I’m beginning to think No. 47 is cursed.
Scott Williams played 15 NBA seasons, wearing Nos. 42 and 55 for the vast majority of his career, including three championship seasons with Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. He turned to No. 47 late, wearing the jersey in brief stints with the Phoenix Suns in 2003-04 and LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in 2004-05. If you read Henry Bushnell’s great piece on what it’s like to play with the GOATs, you would know Williams is one of four guys to ever play with both Jordan and James. The others? Well, you’ll just have to click on over to that article, won’t you?
The Jersey Champion
Andrei Kirilenko, a pioneering small-ball sensation who led the league in blocks as a stretch forward, wore No. 47 for the entirety of a 13-year career, including a 2004 All-Star appearance and three All-Defensive selections with the Utah Jazz. A four-time Russian Player of the Year and two-time FIBA Europe Men’s Player of the Year, Kirilenko won MVPs in the Russian League, EuroLeague and EuroBasket. His wife gives him a yearly hall pass, he has a full-back World of Warcraft tattoo, he’s a real-life Ivan Drago of sorts, and he seemingly wore No. 47 for the sole purpose of using his initials to create the admittedly incredible AK-47 nickname. What’s not to like?
A tip of the Ushanka, Andrei.
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