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 54 days until the season opener on Oct. 22. So, who wore No. 54 best?
Kwame Brown, a former No. 1 pick who wore the number for five different teams, might have single-handedly inspired a generation not to wear 54 for fear they too might be the subject of an alleged tall tale involving Michael Jordan and a good cry.
Geoff Crompton, Howie Jolliff, Popeye Jones, Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Fatty Taylor, all of whom wore No. 54, are proof that the jersey is reserved for fun names.
Kevin Duckworth, a two-time All-Star and the 1988 Most Improved Player, wore No. 54 before the San Antonio Spurs traded him 14 games into his rookie season. He wore No. 00 thereafter. (And to think the Spurs could have had triple towers!)
Patrick Patterson, whose buyout this summer led him from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Los Angeles Clippers, was the only player to wear No. 54 in the NBA this past season, which means he can still reign supreme among the 54s in L.A.
Brad Lohaus and Ed Pinckney, two players who were traded for each other in 1989 and literally swapped jersey numbers, are proof positive that the pool of great players to wear No. 54 is shallow, even if they both carved out lengthy careers.
Rodney Rogers, the 2000 Sixth Man of the Year, wore No. 54 for seven teams, giving us a few memorable moments over his 12 seasons: nine points in eight seconds during a 1994 playoff run that also saw his eighth-seeded Denver Nuggets stun the top-seeded Seattle SuperSonics; a legendary dunk over David Robinson in 1995; and a game-winner during the New Jersey Nets’ run to the 2003 NBA Finals.
Charles Smith, who twice averaged 20 points per game, is unfortunately best remembered as the New York Knicks forward who had four go-ahead layup tries blocked in the final seconds of Game 5 of the 1993 Eastern Conference finals.
The Jersey Champion
Horace Grant, a 1994 All-Star and four-time All-Defense Second Team selection who was among the Bulls blocking Smith’s shots, wore No. 54 for the entirety of his 17-year career, which included three rings alongside Jordan in Chicago and a fourth with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers in 2001. In between, he helped Shaq and the Orlando Magic beat Jordan en route to a 1995 Finals bid.
A tip of the goggles to Horace.
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