We’re kicking off a new series; and we’re going by the numbers. This countdown is dedicated to the best players of all-time by each jersey number. No concrete formula here, just career stats, impact on the game, and some good old fashion opinion. Let’s hop right in.
99 – Wayne Gretzky
He’s called “The Great One” for a reason. Hard to pick a favorite stat to demonstrate Gretzky’s dominance, but one of my favorites is that if he never scored a goal, he still would have had 11 straight 100-point seasons and won four scoring titles.
Honorable Mentions: Manny Ramirez, George Mikan, Warren Sapp
98 – Casey Hampton
Not a widely popular number, so not our largest name on the list. Appropriately nicknamed “Big Snacks,” Hampton made five Pro Bowls as the Steelers nose tackle in the early aughts.
Honorable Mentions: Jason Collins
97 – Jeremy Roenick
Maybe not the best guy, but a pretty good hockey player. The eighth overall pick in the 1988 NHL draft scored 1,216 points in 1,363 games played.
Honorable Mentions: Bryant Young, Cam Heyward
96 – Cortez Kennedy
Kennedy recorded 58 sacks in his 11 seasons for the Seahawks. He recorded 569 tackles and 11 forced fumbles.
Honorable Mentions: Metta World Peace, Tomas Holmstrom
95 – Richard Dent
A bonafide Hall of Famer who was a part of one of the greatest defenses of all time, the ’85 Bears. What more can you ask for?
Honorable Mentions: N/A
94 – Charles Haley
The defensive centerpiece of two all-time franchises in the Cowboys and 49ers.
Honorable Mention: Demarcus Ware
93 – John Randle
Anyone who goes undrafted in their respective sport and go on to become a Hall of Famer is good enough for this list. Randle made seven Pro Bowls and was a six time first team All-Pro selection en route to Canton.
Honorable Mentions: Pat Neshak, Metta World Peace
92 – Reggie White
“The Minister of Defense” was one of the greatest free agent signings of all time, when he left the Philadelphia Eagles in 1992 and signed with the Green Bay Packers. He finished his career with 198 sacks, two NFL defensive player of the year awards, and a Super Bowl ring.
Honorable Mentions: DeShawn Stevenson, Gabriel Landeskog
91 – Dennis Rodman
An obvious answer for a surprisingly strong number. But Rodman’s five rings, seven NBA All-Defensive first selections, and nearly 12,000 career rebounds puts him on our list.
Honorable Mentions: Kevin Greene, Sergei Fedorov
90 – Ndamukong Suh
Suh has had a late-career number change to 93, but he donned 90 early in his career for the Lions when he was arguable at his best. During his time rocking the big 9-0, Suh was the NFL Rookie of the Year, made four Pro Bowls, and was a three time NFL First Team All-Pro.
Honorable Mention: Ryan O’Reilly
High numbers, a lot of hockey players and defensive lineman, to be expected. Will we have some different sports and positions represented in our next set of jersey numbers, 89-80? Only time will tell.
Baker Mayfield had himself a day Four touchdowns, 334 yards, to the Titans’ dismay The Browns moved to 9-3 on the year Once in a blue moon the Dawg Pound can cheer
A few big name changes, on Chicago’s North Side Kyle Schwarber is gone, and Len Kasper has gone for a ride To The White Sox radio both, Cubs fans were surprised What’s going on with the Cubs? It’s hard to surmise
A big name trade in the NBA John Wall for Russell Westbrook, what the hey?! A few bad contracts, who both wanted to change teams This trade will only change things in Wizards & Rockets fan’s dreams
Alabama football rolled their rival LSU The Crimson Tide won by 38, Tigers didn’t have a clue In this weird COVID season, one thing remains the same Alabama is good, and they’ll probably win every game
The NBA is the the best in the big four sports at a lot of things. They by far and away have the best commissioner in Adam Silver, they lead the charge in the “bubble” phenomenon while getting their sport back on track during the pandemic, and have been for the most part the league least afraid to take stands on both social and political issues.
They also are not afraid to get weird with it when it comes to uniforms, which I respect. Don’t get me wrong, I love the traditional uniforms of Alabama football, Yankee baseball, etc. But getting out of your comfort zone is always a good thing, both in uniforms and in life. In recent years, the NBA has begun creating new uniforms for teams, calling them “City Edition” jerseys that are meant to show “team history and unique city stories.” The 2021 versions were fully released today, and boy are they something.
Even though it seems like the NBA season ended last week, it will be back on Christmas Day. Bring on The Association and all of the great, and not so great, “City Edition” jerseys that come with it.
A NBA specific SSM this week! We celebrate the start of free agency in the only way we know how…shitty sports poetry.
Your defending champion Los Angeles Lakers Have not been free agency givers, but free agency takers Montrezl Harrell, Denis Schroeder, and Wes Matthews too The Lake Show roster will be stacked with players old and new
The Washington Wizards, a continuous mess Robin Lopez signed, that’s good I guess? There were rumors of a John Wall for Russell Westbrook trade Sad state of affairs if that’s the best move that can be made
Danilo Gallinari and Rajon Rondo both signed with Atlanta Some serious veteran presence, both good moves, duh The Hawks pair their new signings with a solid core Make no mistake, this team is going to score
Very strange signing in the city of Charlotte Gordon Hayward wanted a payday, and the Hornets bit An injury-prone veteran got $120 million over four years If I discovered this signing as a Hornets fan, I’d be in tears
The birth of #TompaBay got us thinking; what are the wildest player/team combinations we’ve seen in sports?
These kind of late-career transactions have happened for numerous reasons; a player got fed up with a coach/team *cough Tom Brady cough*, the team got sick of the player, or maybe the player was ring chasing or looking for one more payday with a big contract, and was willing to go wherever needed to get that money. Nothing wrong with that.
For whatever reason, the below combos make me feel quite uncomfortable:
Kerry Wood, New York Yankees
As a Cubs fan, this one cut deep. While I don’t hate the Yankees, Kerry Wood was who you thought of when you brought up The Chicago Cubs during his time in the majors. Kid K spent his best years (1998-2008) on the North Side. After singing a two-year deal with Cleveland, Wood was traded to the Yankees on July 31, 2010. He primarily worked as Mariano Rivera’s setup man.
Luckily for us Cubs fans, Woody came home after his half year in New York. He signed a one year deal to come back to the Cubs and end his career in the blue pinstripes instead of the black ones. The way it was meant to be.
Patrick Ewing, Seattle Supersonics
Patrick Ewing is arguably the best player in New York Knicks history. I’m not old enough to realize how great Walt “Clyde” Frazier or Willis Reed were, but seems only appropriate to throw them in the discussion with more current Knicks like Carmelo Anthony & Allan Houston. For such a “storied” franchise, this is actually a pretty brutal top five list.
On September 20th, 2000, one of the largest trades in NBA history ended Ewing’s 15-year run in New York. The trade included The Knicks, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, and of course the Seattle Supersonics. Tough break for Patrick in my opinion; nothing against Seattle but I think the Emerald City would come in third place of places I would prefer to move if I had the choice between there, LA, or Phoenix.
Emmitt Smith, Arizona Cardinals
When Emmitt Smith was released from the The Cowboys in 2003 after 12 years in Dallas, he was the all-time leading rusher in NFL history. He had racked up 17,162 yards, scored 153 touchdowns, and won three Superbowls. He was a part of the “triplets” in Dallas with Troy Aikman & Michael Irvin. The guy was the Dallas Cowboys.
When Bill Parcells took over the Cowboys, he decided it was time for a change, and released Smith on February 26, 2003. I think we all would have been happy to see Emmitt call it a career at that point. However, he decided he still had some left in the tank, and signed a two-year deal with The Arizona Cardinals. What resulted were two forgetful seasons highlighted by his return to Dallas to play the Cowboys on October 5, 2003, where he rushed six times for negative one yard.
Shaquille O’Neal, Boston Celtics
The Big Shamrock! One of the cornerstone’s of the Lakers early aughts dynasty ended his career with the rival Celtics, tragic.
I think it’s fair to say once The Big Aristotle’s runs with The Lakers and Heat were over, it was pure ring chasing time for the big fella. Shaq’s tenures in Phoenix, Cleveland, and of course Boston were a bit hard to watch as his body began to break down.
The silver lining we can take from all of these stops are the nicknames that we were given along the way: Superman, The Big Diesel, Big Daddy, MDE (Most Dominant Ever), Wilt Chamberneazy, and my personal favorite from the Phoenix days…Shaqtus.
Randy Moss, Tennessee Titans
Randy “Imma Play When I Wanna Play” Moss. One of the most supremely athletic wide receivers we’ll ever see. If you haven’t, I would suggest taking some time out and watching any highlight tape of Moss’ career, like this one. He was so good that his name became a verb. If you ever get “Moss’d,” you might as well hang up your cleats.
After setting records with Tom Brady in New England, things started to unravel for Moss. His second tenure with The Vikings lasted less than a month, he made six catches with The Titans in eight games, retired for a year, and played his final season with The San Francisco 49ers in 2012.
Michael Jordan, Washington Wizards
Not even going to talk about it.
More often than not, these late-career moves do not worked out well. While it’s nearly impossible in today’s business of professional sports for a player to spend an entire career with one team, loyalty is still something that can be appreciated. However, when the business side makes itself prevalent, we as fans can be given the gift of some hilarious and awkward visuals with players in new uniforms.