We are inside of one month 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 14 days until the season opener on Oct. 22. So, who wore No. 14 best?
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Arthur Becker, a two-time ABA All-Star, wore No. 14 for the second of them, with the Denver Rockets in 1972.
Rickey Green, the starting point guard for the Utah Jazz who made his lone All-Star appearance in 1984, the same year that franchise drafted the man who would ultimately take his job — a little-known point guard by the name of John Stockton.
Craig Hodges, a political activist before it was popular in the NBA, wore No. 14 en route to a pair of NBA championships and a trio of 3-point contest victories with the Chicago Bulls. He is the 3-Point Shootout G.O.A.T.
Lionel Hollins, the respected coach, donned No. 14 for four-plus seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, including the 1977 championship campaign, a 1978 All-Star appearance and both of his All-Defensive selections.
Jeff Hornacek, a.k.a. Horny, a 1992 All-Star, wiped his cheek many a time wearing No. 14, as he donned the number for three different teams over a 14-year career. His jersey is retired by the Utah Jazz.
Darrall Imhoff, a.k.a. Big D, the starting center opposite Wilt Chamberlain for the Big Dipper’s famed 100-point game, wore No. 14 for four years on the Los Angeles Lakers, including his lone All-Star campaign, before being traded for Chamberlain in 1968.
Freddie Lewis, a four-time ABA All-Star, wore No. 14 with the Indiana Pacers for the first three of them. He is the only player to begin his career in the NBA, play all nine seasons of the ABA’s existence, and then return to the NBA upon its collapse.
Anthony Mason, a.k.a. Mase, taken too soon, wore No. 14 for nine of his 13 NBA seasons, including his runs as a fan favorite on the 1990s New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets, as well as his lone All-Star campaign with the Miami Heat in 2001.
Jon McGlocklin, a 1969 All-Star whose rainbow jumper spaced the floor for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, even before the dawn of the 3-point line, sported No. 14 for his eight-year run with the Milwaukee Bucks, including a 1969 All-Star bid and the 1971 title. His No. 14 is retired by the Bucks.
Dewitt Menyard, the poster boy for criticism of early ABA competitiveness, played in the inaugural All-Star Game, only to be released as soon as the regular season commenced and never signed again. He wore No. 14 for the Houston Mavericks.
Tom Meschery, the NBA’s first Russian, a gloriously mustachioed 1963 All-Star and poet, wore No. 14 throughout his 10-year career, including a 1963 All-Star campaign and as the starting power forward alongside Chamberlain in that 100-point game. His No. 14 is retired by the Warriors.
Eddie Miles, a sharpshooter incredibly nicknamed The Man with the Golden Arm, donned No. 14 for his first six-plus seasons with the Detroit Pistons, including in 1966 for his one and only All-Star appearance.
Chuck Noble, a 1960 All-Star with a sweet one-handed set shot.
Richie Regan, a.k.a. the Cat, has a picture-perfect name for a guy who led Seton Hall to an NIT title, served two years in the U.S. Marine Corps and became an All-Star in his second of only three NBA seasons in the 1950s — all wearing No. 14.
Woody Sauldsberry, drafted 60th overall in the eighth round by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1957, marks the latest selection ever to capture Rookie of the Year honors, and he followed with a 1959 All-Star campaign — both in a No. 14 jersey. He was one of many players talked out of retirement by Bill Russell, winning the 1966 championship in a No. 18 Boston Celtics jersey, but his story sadly turned to darkness in retirement, where his disillusionment with racial injustice in the game sent him into seclusion.
Brian Taylor, once ridiculed for leaving Princeton early to pursue a career in professional basketball, pieced together quite a résumé — 1973 ABA Rookie of the Year honors, two-time ABA All-Star, two-time ABA champion and three-time All-Defensive selection, all in No. 14 jerseys — before tearing his Achilles and returning to Princeton to finish his degree at age 31.
Beno Udrih, who I always forget won two championships wearing No. 14 for the San Antonio Spurs.
Zelmo Beaty, a recent Hall of Fame inductee, wore No. 14 as a rookie before adopting No. 31 for the remainder of a career that included the 1971 ABA championship and two All-Star selections apiece in the NBA and ABA.
Larry Foust, the only eight-time All-Star not in the Hall of Fame, only turned to No. 14 in his 12th and final season.
Tim Hardaway, the five-time All-Star with a killer crossover, donned a No. 14 Indiana Pacers jersey for 10 games before retiring.
Bob Houbregs, maybe the most puzzling Hall of Fame inductee, wore No. 14 for 11 games as a rookie with the Milwaukee Hawks, before being traded to the Baltimore Bullets for Max Zaslofsky, whose sole All-Star selection is still more than Houbregs.
Buddy Jeannette, a Hall of Famer and professional basketball O.G., wore No. 14 for his one and only NBA season, well after he had established his legend with four combined National Basketball League and Basketball Association of America titles.
Jerry Sloan, the Hall of Fame coach, wore No. 14 as a rookie on the Baltimore Bullets, before earning two All-Star bids and six All-Defensive selections in a No. 4 jersey that is now retired by the Chicago Bulls.
Lenny Wilkens, the Hall of Fame player and coach who wore too many numbers to belong to one, sported No. 14 for a five-year stretch with the St. Louis Hawks that included four of his nine All-Star selections.
Gary Harris, the underrated two-way guard on a Denver Nuggets team that should legitimately contend for a title this season, gets the nod here as the best active player wearing No. 14 — a notch above former No. 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram, whose ceiling still might be higher, and two-time champion Danny Green, who wore No. 4 for the Beautiful Basketball Spurs of 2014.
Bob Cousy, a.k.a. Houdini of the Hardwood, a Hall of Famer who introduced the NBA to a new brand of playmaking, sported No. 14 throughout his tenure with the Celtics — a 13-year stretch in which he led the league in assists for eight straight years and won six titles in a seven-year span as Bill Russell’s cohort. He was an All-Star in each of those seasons and the MVP in 1957, more than deserving of a jersey retirement and worthy of a jersey championship if not for a guy we will get to soon enough.
Andy Phillip, a.k.a. Handy Andy, a Hall of Famer and absolute stud who served as a first lieutenant for the U.S. Marines at Iwo Jima during World War II, sported No. 14 for a four-year stint with the Detroit Pistons that saw three of his five All-Star selections.
Arnie Risen, a.k.a. Stilts, a Hall of Famer, sported No. 14 on his way to four All-Star appearances and the 1951 NBA title in seven seasons with the Rochester Royals, before switching to No. 19 and adding another ring in three years with the Celtics.
The Jersey Champion
Oscar Robertson, a.k.a. the Big O, a Hall of Famer and the prototype for players we now often refer to as GOATs, donned No. 14 for a decade of individual dominance with the Cincinnati Royals. He too was an All-Star each season he wore the jersey, capturing 1961 Rookie of the Year and 1964 Most Valuable Player honors. Robertson led the league in assists six times and scoring once, famously averaging a 31-13-11 triple-double in his second NBA season. In fact, he nearly averaged a triple-double for the decade he wore No. 14 (29.3 points, 10.3 assists and 8.5 rebounds). He switched to No. 1 with the Milwaukee Bucks for his final four seasons, winning his only title in that jersey. Both numbers are retired in his honor.
A tip o’ the cap, Mr. Triple Double.
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