NBA Countdown: Which player wore No. 53 best in league history?

Which NBA player wore No. 53 best?
Which NBA player wore No. 53 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 00.

There are currently 53 days until the season opener on Oct. 22. So, who wore No. 53 best?



Rich Kelley, who wore No. 53 for four different teams, sported the sweetest of horseshoe mustaches and glorious lettuce for the New Orleans Jazz:

Find a better mustache in NBA history. I dare you. (Getty Images)
Find a better mustache in NBA history. I dare you. (Getty Images)

Alton Lister, who wore No. 53 for the entirety of a 16-year career, made the 1980 U.S. Olympic national team before Jimmy Carter boycotted the Moscow Games.


Nobody wore No. 53 last season. Feels like some second-round pick should make this his corner, complete with the Rich Kelley look. Here’s looking at you, Kyle Guy.


Darryl Dawkins, a.k.a. Chocolate Thunder, was the reason the NBA banned both breaking backboards and wearing gold chains in games. He also named his dunks, including one dubbed the Yo-Mama, and he claimed to be an alien from Lovetron, where he practiced interplanetary funkmanship. He also owns the two highest single-season personal foul totals in NBA history. Honestly, this is tough to beat.

Mark Eaton, who made the 1989 All-Star Game despite averaging 6.2 points that season, was a defensive stalwart at 7-foot-4, twice winning Defensive Player of the Year, including that 1988-89 campaign. He holds NBA records for single-season blocks (456) and career blocks per game (3.5), and his 3,064 career blocks rank fourth all-time, the most of any non-Hall of Famer. That’s some good Eaton. (Sorry.)

James Edwards, a.k.a. Buddha, carved out a 19-year career that featured his own signature mustache and nine stops, the last six of which he sported No. 53. He wore the jersey number for all three of his NBA title runs — two as a rotational player for the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons and one as a reserve on the 1996 Chicago Bulls.

The Jersey Champion

Artis Gilmore, the 1972 ABA MVP and a 1975 ABA champion, is the only Hall of Famer ever to sport No. 53, and he did so over a 17-year career that featured 11 All-Stars bids split between the ABA and NBA. He averaged 18.8 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game across the two leagues, and his 59.9 field-goal percentage for his career ranks second all-time behind only DeAndre Jordan.

Kudos to a dude whose legendary afro took him to 7-foot-6.

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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