“It was all a dream” – Biggie “Except it wasn’t because this team actually existed and played real games and won a real gold medal and took over the world” – Biggie’s next line that was eventually cut because it was too real.
If you’re 34 or older and like sports even just a little bit, you remember the fascination with the Dream Team. This team being assembled predated the idea that you could buy a video game and just put the best players on your favorite team and then go out and beat people by 50. They were the cheat code before people started using the term with everything.
If you’re younger than 34 and like sports, the Dream Team still means as much to you as it does for the old farts mentioned above. They are a figment of your imagination that exists on documentaries, posters and youtube videos but you get their significance and what that team meant.
But, we’re not here for all that. We’re here for their numbers and how wild it was to see these icons play in real games with numbers completely different from what we were used to seeing them in (except for Stockton. More later).
It’s already been discussed how crazy it was to see Jordan wear 45 but the number 9?! Almost as strange, except, well let’s just get to it.
For this exercise, let’s pretend like the players had a choice in their number. I have no idea if this is true but I also don’t want to research it to ruin my exercise.
Let’s go from smallest to biggest and it’s only appropriate that the guy with the smallest number on the team was…
Christian Laettner #4 (32 with Duke) – The black sheep of the team went with a multiple of 32 but there’s no way he got the first choice so he was stuck with the smallest number which seems so very appropriate. Also, if you had to put a college guy on the team, the Laettner pick was 100% defensible at the time.
David Robinson #5 (50 with the Spurs) – The Admiral is all business. When given the options, it took him very little time to pick 5 since 50 already had a 5. He kept it simple just like he kept his hair, his words and his nickname. Robinson just made this easy and then went on and pulled off wearing 5 because David Robinson’s generational proof game allowed him to pull off any number he wanted to.
Patrick Ewing #6 (33 with Knicks) – Ewing just took that 3 and 3 and added them together. A fine idea when it works out and you’re only limited to numbers between 4 and 15. Ewing never had any business wearing a single-digit number (Remember Patrick Ewing #6 for the SuperSonics? the Magic?) but he gets points for being somewhat creative.
Larry Bird #7 (33 with Celtics) – 7 is about as perfect a number gets, Bird is about as perfect of a player you can get, who is playing for the most perfect team. Let’s move on.
Scottie Pippen #8 (33 with the Bulls) – He was always a rung under Jordan in real life so it makes sense he’d be 8 to Jordan’s 9.
Michael Jordan #9 (23 with the Bulls) – A nod to his ‘84 gold medal Olympic appearance and 9 is a beautiful number and gives us a chance to see what a single-digit number looks like on his sinewy frame.
Clyde Drexler #10 (22 with the Blazers) – 22 fits Clyde so well. It’s such a smooth number for such a smooth player. No doubt Clyde the Glide chose 10 because so many of his in-game dunks would’ve been 10s in a dunk contest of non-in-game dunks.
is just so cute. It was worth Isiah Thomas being left off the team in favor of Stockton so Malone and he could wear back-to-back numbers. It’s just so adorable.
John Stockton #12 (12 with the Jazz) – Of course Stockton would not stray from 12. No one could keep it more simple than Stockton.
Chris Mullin #13 (17 with the Warriors) – Mullen understands that 13 looks good on anybody and that it looks even better on lefties.
Charles Barkley #14 (34 with the Sixers) – Barkley wore 34 so well. Such a dominant sports number for such a dominant player and sports figure. 14 is kind of ‘blah’ but Barkley’s the type to bring to life just about anything that’s dull.
Magic Johnson #15 (32 with the Lakers) – Listening to Magic talk about the Lakers/Celtics rivalry over the years, he was always quick to point out how much respect he had for Larry Bird. I mean, the man even attended Larry Bird night, in Boston, where he’s hated, in a Celtics shirt to let everyone know how much respect he had for Bird. But, in no way did Magic think Larry was better than him. Magic picks the anesthetic 15 to let Larry know that he’s twice as good as him, plus 1. I disagree but can respect the flex.