12 NBA Players And How They Chose Their Jersey Number

6 8 23 9 37 0 7 3 85 45…To me and you, these are just numbers. To athletes, one of these numbers might just be their jersey number, and that “number” is never just a number.

How do athletes pick this “number”? For many, it means more than just their birthday, or their favorite month, their number holds a special meaning to them.

Here are some NBA players, and why they picked their jersey number: 

Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards (‘03 –‘10), #0

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Gilbert Arenas, also known as “Agent Zero”, wore his jersey number like a chip on his shoulder.

At the University of Arizona, Arenas wasn’t able to pick number 25, his high school number, because it was retired. So to prove his doubters wrong, Arenas’ picked number zero and it was his number until he left Washington.

“Zero is the number of minutes people predicted I would play my freshman year at Arizona,” said Arenas…“I decided to go with it because I love proving people wrong.”

Arenas’ averaged 32.1 minutes per game as a freshman at Arizona.

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, #0

Westbrook on why he wears number zero,

You go with the zero when you’ve been through something and you are looking to get a new beginning. It helps you get going again. It helps you get the swag back.”

In high school, Westbrook’s only offer from a top tier school was UCLA. Aside from that, his main offers were from Creighton, San Diego, and Kent State. Westbrook never forgot that disrespect, eventually taking UCLA and the NBA by storm.

Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers, #3

Chris Paul wears the number three because his dad and his brother, who have the same initials CP, were CP1 and CP2, so he wanted to be CP3.

Dwayne Wade, Miami Heat, #3

Wade, who is deeply Christian, chose number three because the Trinity, a principle of Christianity, has three parts.

Lebron James, Miami Heat, #6

Lebron James took No. 6 in honor of Julius Erving.

James on why he chose the number six,

“My second-favorite player was Julius Erving, and he wore No. 6,” James said. “I wore 32 in high school because Dr. J wore it at first. My first child was born on Oct. 6, it’s my Olympic number, and my second child was born in June.”

While in Cleveland, James wore number 23 because of his favorite player, Michael Jordan. Here’s why he switched,

“I feel like no NBA player should wear 23. I’m starting a petition, and I’ve got to get everyone in the NBA to sign it. Now, if I’m not going to wear No. 23, then nobody else should be able to wear it.”

*Note to Lebron James: Just because you’re not going to do something, it doesn’t mean everybody else shouldn’t do it either. I mean if that were true, then nobody would have any NBA Championships.

Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic, #12

Howard chose the number 12 as a reversal of his idol Kevin Garnett, who wore 21 during the prime of his career in Minnesota. It must have been tough for Howard to get punched by his idol though.

Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz, #20 Hayward chose the number 20 in part because of Manu Ginobili, who wears the same number. Hayward on his idol,

“He’s one of those guys I looked up to when I was growing up,” Hayward said…  “I tried to emulate some of the stuff that he did and put it into my game because he’s a great player.”

Shawn Marion, Phoenix Suns (’99 –’08), #31

Marion grew up as a fan of the Reggie Miller, and chose his number because of him. It’s ironic how Marion, who has one of the worst shooting strokes in the NBA, looked up to Reggie Miller, who has one of the best shooting strokes in league history.

Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers, #33

Here’s what Granger tweeted on why he wears number 33,

“It’s because when I was 9 or so Scottie Pippen reached up and touched my hand at a bulls game. Been #33 since.”

Ron Artest, Los Angeles Lakers (’09 –’10), #37

While wearing #37, Artest helped the Lakers to the NBA Title in his first season with the team.

Artest chose number 37 to honor Michael Jackson whose album, “Thriller”, spent 37 weeks atop the pop charts.

Derek Fisher, Oklahoma City Thunder, #37

Derek Fisher on his number switch, from #2 with the Lakers to #37 with the Thunder,

“(My age) seemed to be a negative thing for so long, especially this season. It was a negative thing I was 37….I figured since everybody likes to throw my age around in negative conversations, I’d just go put it out there and let everybody know from the beginning, I am 37, but I think I can do some great things to help this team,” Fisher said.

Throwback Edition: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls, #23

Jordan idolized his older brother, Larry, who wore number 45. But when Jordan got to high school, his brother had already taken number 45. So he halved it to 22.5 and rounded up to 23.

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4 Comments

Filed under NBA

4 responses to “12 NBA Players And How They Chose Their Jersey Number

  1. seanoz

    Haha freakin Lebron. It also helps he can make millions of more dollars playing in a number of his own. Kinda like when Kobe switched, back in the day.

  2. Louise Ollarvia

    Why in 2012 Lebron James felt nobody should wear the number 23 and now in the 2014/2015 season he is sporting the number 23? Does he think he is special?

  3. Angelina

    Why does Gerald Green where 14

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