There have been many individual player number bits in the NBA to be sure. Dennis Rodman wearing 91, Dennis Rodman trying to wear 69 but then having to settle for 70, anything Metta wore post Malice at the Palace, Scot Pollard wearing 62 just because and then one of the all-time great number choices – Joseph Forte wearing four-tey (He should have his number retired by the Celtics just for that). But what a number bit pulled off by an entire team? Has that ever happened? According to the Doctor’s research of sitting here for about 5 minutes and thinking of any candidates, the answer has definitely come back as ‘no.’ Until now. It was recently revealed that the Lakers team almost entirely consists of players wearing single-digit numbers outside of Dwight, of course. Leave it to him to mess it all up but will get to more on him later.
Now, I’m sure a quick internet search will reveal why and how the Lakers ended up with such an entire roster number anomaly but what’s the fun in doing internet research that anybody can do anyway? No, I’d rather speculate and what I’m speculating is that this is all LeBron. There’s a lot of things I don’t like about LeBron and after his appearance last night on Monday Night Football with the Mannings where he just couldn’t wait to throw his high school quarterback under the bus to prop himself up, the list just got longer. If you didn’t see it, it was so awful and here’s a clip. I mean, this poor sap probably was sitting by the TV and begging everyone to come watch as he sensed LeBron was about to relive his high school days football days just for LeBron to announce to the entire nation how bad this dude sucked. This poor guy is just another kid from Akron himself who had his one party trick taken away from him in front of a national audience, a hall of fame quarterback and his mediocre brother. It was shameful.
Anyway, I don’t like a lot about LeBron but what I do like about him is that he is without question one of the two greatest players to ever play basketball and he has great taste in European soccer clubs (#ynwa) and I like to pretend that he suggested to his teammates that they wear more traditional soccer numbers this season in an effort to create team unity. Or, at least that’s how it worked out even without my fantasy being true.
Really, look at it. The entire LAL roster is a bit. They’re all wearing single digit numbers and it’s glorious. Of course, there aren’t too many number surprises on the roster; Westbrook was of course going back to 0, Carmelo was sticking with 7 and LeBron went back to the number that always fit him best, 6. But what’s amazing is that they were able to pull it off. Think about it. The Lakers are the Lakers. They’ve got 12 numbers that are off-limits which is one of the most of any NBA team (because nobody is touching the Celtics who are going to eventually have to resort to assigning special characters) yet every single single-digit number is available outside of 8 (RIP Kobe).
It’s just really cool and chances are if you’re reading this blog, you either think it is or you really hate it. And I can understand either, but I love it.
And then there’s Dwight. Sticking with 39. A weird number for a weird guy so I’ve always defended it when he made the move there from 12/8 to 39. 12 is one of the most boring numbers in basketball and Dwight’s weirdness somehow never did it any favors despite his unique peak and talent. 39 is weird and so is Dwight but I think he missed out on a golden opportunity here. 8 of course is off limits but why not stick with a weird number, tip your cap to Kobe and fall in line with the theme of the rest of the team and find something that adds up to 8? I’m thinking Dwight should be wearing 62 or 26. Again, strange basketball numbers but Dwight has always been anything but normal. It would work.
Numbers are important to players and important to fans. I don’t think this anomaly is lost on the team at all and I salute them for the sacrifices they made to make it work for this season (I’m guessing that once it the bit decided, maybe Monk, Baze, Nunn nor Jordan had much of a choice in the matter). That being said, here’s to hoping that your entire roster of number wins doesn’t end up with one big on-court win at the end of the season.