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 29 days until the season opener on Oct. 22. So, who wore No. 29 best?
Alando Tucker, now an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin, is the only player to wear No. 29 for an entire career lasting longer than a single season.
Charlie Black, who played two seasons at the University of Kansas, flew 51 missions over Nazi-occupied Germany during World War II, and then completed his college career, only wore No. 29 for 17 games during a three-year career.
Marcus Camby, the 2007 Defensive Player of the Year, four-time All-Defensive selection and four-time blocks leader, wore No. 23 for the majority of his career, only sporting No. 29 for 19 games with the Houston Rockets in his penultimate season.
Joe Graboski, the third player to jump from high school to the pros, second to ever play in the Basketball Association of America at 18 years old and a 1956 NBA champion with the Philadelphia Warriors, only wore No. 29 for three games in his final season — a 1961-62 campaign in which he played for three different teams.
Kleggie Hermsen, who wore five different numbers for eight different teams in a six-year career, wore No. 29 en route to a 1948 BAA title with the Baltimore Bullets.
Bones McKinney, a two-time All-BAA selection described by his biographer as “the Forrest Gump of basketball,” wore No. 29 for half a season on the Washington Capitols before becoming a beloved coach who drafted the NBA’s first black player. His college career, split between the University of North Carolina and N.C. State, was interrupted by a year of service in the U.S. Army during World War II.
Chick Reiser, a three-time champion in the BAA and National Basketball League, also wore No. 29 with the Capitols for his 12th and final professional season.
Nobody! No. 29 seems to have been popular in the 1940s, so somebody with an old-timey name is responsible for bringing it back. You’re up, Walt Lemon Jr.
Pervis Ellison, the No. 1 overall pick in 1989 and the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 1992, wore No. 29 for the final six seasons of a 11-year career. Once nicknamed “Never Nervous Pervis” for his performance en route to an NCAA title and the 1986 Final Four Most Outstanding Player honor, Ellison later received the moniker “Out of Service Pervis,” courtesy of Danny Ainge, for his unfortunate list of injury problems.
Hank Finkel, tasked with filling Bill Russell’s shoes as center for the Boston Celtics starting in 1970, wore No. 29 for six seasons and won the 1974 NBA championship.
Mike Wilks, despite a career average of 2.5 points per game, brought No. 29 to more people than anyone, thanks to an approach that earned him the D-League’s sportsmanship award in 2002. He donned 29 for all but one of his nine teams and eight NBA seasons. That season: A 2004-05 title campaign in No. 11 for the Spurs.
The Jersey Champion
Paul Silas, a two-time All-Star, three-time champion and five-time All-Defensive selection, wore No. 29 for seven of his first eight seasons, including his first All-Star campaign with the Phoenix Suns in 1972. He won his three rings wearing No. 35 for the Boston Celtics and Seattle SuperSonics later in a 16-year career, but with the dearth of talent that has worn No. 29, he is easily the jersey champion, even if his legacy later was shaped by the narratives surrounding his status as the first coach fired under LeBron James’ watch and coach of the seven-win Charlotte Bobcats.
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