Which Players Deserve their Jerseys in the Rafters: Best of the Best

Both jerseys should be hanging in the Dallas rafters.

Mark Cuban recently expressed his displeasure with Jason Kidd’s “disloyalty” by claiming his jersey would never be retired in Dallas. Mosi Platt (@MIA_Heat_index) of the Miami Heat Index asked me if I could come up with a criteria using Wins Produced if a player should have their jersey retired. On follow up, Mosi basically said he wanted me to leave emotion on the table. With challenge in hand I came up with a method I’m happy with.

To deserve to have their name forever associated with a team I thought of three simple criteria.

  • They need to have longevity with the team. The average NBA career is close to six seasons (numbers from Weakside Awareness) I used this as a cutoff.
  • The need to have played great. Not every season but at least a few. I like my 10 win cutoff for greatness. So I only included players that had two or more season with 10+ wins.
  • They needed lots of wins. Finally, I figured a player needed to have earned their team at least 50 wins over their tenure.

Let’s run down each team and the players that should have their jerseys retired. I’ll go from most retire worthy players to least. As I’m using the Wins Produced numbers, I’m limiting this to players that were active between 1978-2012. Today, I’ll go over the best of the bunch.

1. Utah Jazz (8)

John StocktonKarl MaloneAndrei KirilenkoMark EatonAdrian DantleyRickey GreenJeff HornacekDeron Williams

The Jazz have had great players pretty much continuously since the early 80s. First Adrian Dantley and Mark Eaton held down the fort. Then came along the great pick and roll of Karl Malone and John Stockton with Jeff Hornacek thrown in for good measure. Right as they wound down the Jazz got AK47, Boozer and Deron Williams.

Last season Paul Millsap had an 82 game adjusted 10 wins. If he can pull another 10 win season, he’ll make the list. Derrick Favors is young and already playing well. The Jazz are in a good position to add even more players to this list.

2. Los Angeles Lakers (8)

Magic JohnsonKobe BryantKareem Abdul-JabbarShaquille O’NealA.C. Green, James WorthyLamar OdomVlade Divac

Four of the Show Time Lakers that won five titles make the list. Of course the duo of Shaq and Kobe are here as well. Lamar Odom was also a key Laker before falling to the kryptonite of reality TV. Vlade Divac, who is often incorrectly remembered as a bad trade piece for Kobe, was actually quite good in his time on the Lakers.

If the Lakers can avoid trading Pau this season, he’ll make the list as well. If Dwight can last six seasons in L.A. then he’s a good candidate too.

3. Boston Celtics (7)

Larry BirdRobert ParishPaul PierceKevin McHale, Cedric MaxwellRajon RondoDanny Ainge

An impressive collection of talent. Every one of these players has a ring and was a key member of the team that won it. I can’t say any of them are that surprising. If Kevin Garnett can stay standing, he too will make the list. Ray Allen‘s departure to the enemy sadly keeps his name from hitting the rafters.

4. Phoenix Suns (7)

Shawn MarionSteve NashKevin JohnsonLarry NanceDan MajerleJeff HornacekAmare Stoudemire

This list of great players is a bit bitter sweet. With the exception of Kevin Johnson, all of the players left to play elsewhere. In Amare’s case that wasn’t such a bad thing. The Suns managed to go far with these players but never quite managed to get that elusive title. Marcin Gortat may join this list, but his teams likely won’t be as good.

5. Detroit Pistons (6)

Ben WallaceDennis RodmanBill LaimbeerChauncey BillupsIsiah ThomasGrant Hill

Poor Grant Hill. Unlike our other names, he is the only one that is ringless. The Pistons had a great collection of players in the 80s and the 2000s. In seems like they take decades off in between greatness, which is where we are now. Turns out Greg Monroe could easily join this list. However, he’ll be up there with poor Grant Hill as opposed to the other title winners.

6. “Oklahoma City Thunder” (6)

Gary PaytonNate McMillanShawn KempJack SikmaMichael CageDetlef Schrempf

Alright, so technically not a single member of this list played for the Thunder — although Kevin Durant will be joining the list this year. In the 90s the Sonics were really good, which is unfortunately why George Karl has a job with my Nuggets. Jack Sikma also makes an appearance as a title winner. The good news is that Thunder players will soon be joining this list. Although, I’m not sure Seattle fans are pleased about that.

7. Dallas Mavericks (6)

Dirk NowitzkiJason KiddBrad DavisJames DonaldsonJason TerrySteve Nash

Jason Kidd does actually earn his stripes (at least based on the stats). I won’t actually lie, I had to go look up Brad Davis and James Donaldson as I know virtually nothing about the Mavericks of the 80s. Cuban said he was on the fence about Terry but the numbers say he earned it. I’m curious if Kidd gets the boot for walking out the door rudely, if Nash will get the wave for doing his best to stay.

8. Indiana Pacers (5)

Reggie MillerDale DavisJeff FosterVern FlemingMark Jackson

The trio of Reggie, Davis and Jackson make the list. I had forgotten how good Jeff Foster was before he started breaking down. I did do a double take on Vern Fleming, who played surprisingly well for quite a while with the Pacers.

9. Atlanta Hawks (5)

Tree RollinsMookie BlaylockDominique WilkinsDoc RiversDan Roundfield

Rollins, Blaylock and Roundfield got some props while playing for their defensive prowess. I’ll be honest that the only two names that stood out to me were the Human Highlight Reel and Doc Rivers (for coaching) The Hawks have had some decent teams since 1978 (barring a bad run from 2000 to 2007) and here are some of the players from them. (Can you tell I’m not really a Hawks fan…surprisingly)

10. Orlando Magic (5)

Dwight HowardNick AndersonAnfernee HardawayDarrell ArmstrongHorace Grant

It’s doubtful the Magic will ever grace their rafters with Dwight’s jersey. In terms of longevity and winning though, he tops the list for the Magic. Don’t forget that Shaq hopped ship as soon as his rookie contract was up so he misses the list. Nick Anderson probably gets overshadowed by the fact that he played in the same time frame as Shaq and Penny. Darrell Armstrong sadly just missed that era. Finally, a turncoat Horace Grant helped this team make it to the finals.

There are your top ten teams in terms of retirable jerseys. I’ll be back with more of the league soon!



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