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Worst Retired Numbers in the History of US Leagues

  • These are some of the worst retired numbers in the history of the US league
  • 1977's Portland Blazers' members all got their jerseys retired
worst retired numbers
Image via Flickr

Retiring your number in the team franchise is a matter of great honor to the athletes. When the franchise agrees that the athlete has contributed to the team greatly, they show respect to the player by retiring their jersey. Any other future player will not be able to wear that number unless the retired athlete agrees to it. It takes a lot of success and determination from the athlete to get recognition to get their jerseys retired. Or does it? Here are some examples of the worst retired numbers in the history of the US leagues.

They’ve retired around 200 jerseys in the NBA league alone. Even though the number is divided into the 30 teams, well, 26 to be exact, there are only so many numbers you can put in your jersey. The players would have to start wearing 3 digit numbers on their jerseys if they keep retiring jerseys. On the side note, there are four NBA teams that don’t have any retired jerseys. They are LA Clippers, Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors. Maybe they’re waiting for the player that finally gets them to the championships or the ones who did get them the ring didn’t stay on the team long enough. Yes, yes, I’m talking about Kawhi’s performance in the Raptors. However, apparently the time the athletes have been on the team doesn’t really matter for some teams to get their jerseys retired.

Ray Bourque in Colorado Avalanche

Now, there’s nothing I have against Ray Bourque, he is one of the greatest defensive players in NHL history after all. However, he was the greatest defenseman of the Boston Bruins. He has played for the Colorado Avalanche for only a year and a half. And apparently, that period is enough for the team to retire your jersey. There’s no doubt that he was one of the biggest reasons why the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in 2001. He has scored the game-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils. Almost all of the online sportsbooks in the US were favoring the Devils at that time. However, even that accomplishment is not enough to get your jersey retired in a team that you played for merely a year and a half.

worst retired numbers
Colorado Avalanche – Image via Flickr

Rick Ley in Hartford Whalers

Remember what we said about how retiring your number is a pretty big deal in sports for an athlete? And how the number is not supposed to be worn by any other player in that franchise anymore? Well you should forget about all that for Rick Ley. At least Hartford Whalers did. They have retired Rick Ley’s jersey number 2 after he played nine seasons in the team from 1972 to 1981. However, after he had moved to Raleigh, they have brought the number back to circulation. Not that this is not disrespectful enough, they have decided to retire the number 2 again for Glen Wesley. Now, we know that Wesley deserves all the respect he’s getting, but did they really have to do it by disrespecting the other one? So even though poor Wesley has done nothing to shoulder the blame, this number is rightfully in the list of the worst retired numbers.

Vinnie Johnson in Detroit Pistons

Vincent Johnson or Vinnie Johnson as people know him better has played with the Pistons for almost ten seasons. He joined the team in 1981 and moved to San Antonio Spurs in the season

of 1991. Most of his popularity has to do with the 1990 and 1989 season when Detroit got the championship consecutively. He made the buzzer shot in game 5 of the finals against Portland Trail Blazers in 1990. That shot has brought the team’s score up to 92, beating the Blazers by 2 points.

Even though his achievements were great in these games, he was merely the sixth game for the rest of his career. We don’t want to take the pride away from this great game, but retiring a player who has been averaging around 12PPG in his career got to make this one of the worst retired numbers in the history of the NBA. There’s no doubt that he has contributed to the success of the team, but the retirement of the jerseys should be reserved only for the great players, not the good ones.

The 1977 Portland Blazers

This is the prime example of how the teams go overboard with retiring the numbers. The championship of 1977 was obviously a memorable event for the Blazers. There is even a TV mini-series about the finals that year. After 2 consecutive losses to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Blazers have beat them with over 30 points difference. It was a great success for a team that entered the picture a mere seven years ago. The year 1977 was when they first entered the play-off. Nobody thought that they would go as far as the finals, not to mention the championship.

worst retired numbers
Portland Blazers – Image via Flickr

The victory was a historical event for them. However, we still don’t think it was necessary to retire the entire line-up’s numbers of that year. Except for a few Hall-of-Famers like Bill Walton, the players had an unmentionable contribution to the team except for the 1977 finals. We don’t want to go overboard, surely. But it would not be that far from the truth to say that the rest of the team are some of the worst retired numbers in the NBA.

Jimmie Reese in Anaheim Angels

The contribution Jimmie Reese made for the Anaheim Angels was priceless, to say the least. Only, it was not on the field. He has played only three seasons in the MLB. No doubt that he has done the team immeasurable good and went through a lot with them. However, we still believe that the retiring numbers should be left for the athletes who actually play on the field. He was a manager and conditioning coach for the Angels. The only reason why the team has decided to retire his number 50 is because of the attachment to him.

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