NBA Countdown: Which player wore No. 5 best in league history?

Ben Rohrbach
Which NBA player wore No. 5 best?
Which NBA player wore No. 5 best?

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 five days until the season opener on Tuesday. So, who wore No. 5 best?



John Bagley, who my neighbor always called Bag Lady.

Carlos Boozer, a two-time All-Star with spray-on hair.

Baron Davis, who wore No. 5 for the We Believe Warriors.

Josh Howard, an All-Star in 2007 who publicly shared his affection for marijuana in 2008 and was a disposable asset by 2010.

Juwan Howard, a 1996 All-Star, 2012 NBA champion and maybe the most underrated member of the Fab Five.

Danny Manning, the 1998 Sixth Man of the Year and two-time All-Star whose ascendance was derailed by knee injuries.

Billy Paultz, a three-time ABA All-Star and 1974 ABA champion who was straight-up slapped by Hakeem Olajuwon.

John Paxson, a three-time champion whose shot to win Game 6 of the 1993 Finals must haunt Charles Barkley.

Jalen Rose, the 2000 Most Improved Player turned commentator who actually wore No. 5 with the Fab Five.

Ha Seung-Jin, the only South Korean ever to play in the NBA.

Paul Seymour, a three-time All-Star who once played 67 minutes in a single playoff game.

J.R. Smith, the 2013 Sixth Man of the Year, 2016 champion and gift to the basketball blogging gods.

Josh Smith, the king of the contested jump shot.

John Thompson, the Hall of Fame coach and a two-time champion with the Boston Celtics.

Dick and Tom Van Arsdale, the first twins to play for the same NBA team, both three-time All-Stars and both Nos. 5 (at times). The Phoenix Suns retired No. 5 in Dick’s honor. Tom only joined his brother in Phoenix for their 12th and final season.

Paul Walther, a 1952 All-Star and World War II veteran.


Tim Hardaway, the five-time All-Star who believes he has been blackballed by the Hall of Fame, only wore No. 5 as a rookie.

Bill Walton, the Hall of Famer robbed of G.O.A.T. potential by injury, turned to No. 5 for two glorious seasons with the Celtics, with whom he earned a ring and Sixth Man of the Year honors in 1986. He won two NCAA championships, the 1977 NBA title and the 1978 MVP award wearing No. 32 for UCLA and the Portland Trail Blazers. Both have retired No. 32 in his honor.


De’Aaron Fox, a.k.a. Swipa, is the best active player wearing No. 5 among a group of intriguing young talents, including Dejounte Murray, Montrezl Harrell, Kevon Looney, Dennis Smith Jr. and Mo Bamba. Fox was a finalist for 2019 Most Improved Player for his contribution to the surprising Sacramento Kings, and it would be stunning if he never made an All-Star roster.


Robert Horry, a.k.a. Big Shot Rob (or Bob), a zero-time All-Star who many believe should be in the Hall of Fame for his contributions as a glue-guy and clutch performer on three different teams that won multiple championships, sported No. 5 in 11 of his 16 seasons, including five of his seven title campaigns. At the very least, he is the most fortunate player in NBA history.

Jason Kidd, a Hall of Famer and triple-double waiting to happen, wore No. 5 in 11 of his 19 seasons, including his best years on the New Jersey Nets. He shared 1995 Rookie of the Year honors and made six of his 10 All-Star appearances in a No. 5 jersey. His lone championship came while wearing No. 2 for the Dallas Mavericks. The Nets retired his No. 5 when he coached them.

Guy Rodgers, a Hall of Famer who played with both Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, sported No. 5 for all but the first two of his 12 seasons, including four All-Star appearances. He recorded 20 assists in Chamberlain’s 100-point game.

The Jersey Champion

Kevin Garnett, the Big Ticket, a soon-to-be Hall of Famer and maybe the most underrated superstar of his generation, wore No. 5 for his six seasons in Boston, including five All-Star bids, a Defensive Player of the Year nod and the 2008 NBA title. While much of his prime came in a No. 21 Minnesota Timberwolves jersey, which he wore for his 2004 MVP campaign and 10 more All-Star appearances, it is impossible to capture just how transformative he was in restoring the Celtics to glory. I would not be surprised to see his No. 5 retired in Boston in the near future. This came down to a difficult decision between Garnett and Kidd. When in doubt, I went with the guy who did not begin one stint and end another wearing No. 5 under nefarious circumstances.

Kudos, KG.

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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