Hang It Up

hanger

Photo by DJ Bass via Flicker

 

“Chris Mullin, a member of the NBA’s 2011 Hall of Fame class, is set to have his #17 jersey retired by the Golden State Warriors.

The NBA great, known for his sharp-shooting, will have his number retired in a ceremony on January 20th during the Warriors’ home game against the Indiana Pacers.”

Via “NBA Great Chris Mullin To Have Number Retired By Golden State Warriors” by Randall Stevens

Great news from the Bay Area! Hopefully, the season will have started by then for Mullin to have one more moment of glory. However, there are  many players at the moment who should be in Mullin’s holding pattern predicament of hoping the lockout ends in time for a jersey retirement ceremony. Some of these players, frankly, have no shot because they’ve either been retired for so long that the generation that grew up admiring their play are themselves all retired. Then there’s the also the problem of franchises having pulled up stakes and refusing to acknowledge their past heroes in other locales.

Just within the Warriors franchise there’s the twin examples of Joe Fulks and Paul Arizin. Both are Hall of Famers who revolutionized the game, but did so during the 1940s and 1950s when the Warriors were in Philadelphia. Their particular stories will have to wait for another day. However, I’ve selected 5 primetime candidates for jersey retirement from the last 35 years who have varying degrees of hope but all are universally qualified, in my opinion to have their numbers hanging from their respective rafters.

 

Mark Aguirre – #24 Dallas Mavericks

Mark Aguirre

It’s been said many times, but in pretty much the same way: the 1980s was a bonanza for scoring forwards. One of the most prolific was the barrel-chested Aguirre. Spending 7+ seasons with the Mavericks he was the dynamo that spurred the franchise from expansion push over to perennial playoff participant culminating in the 1988 Western Conference Finals where Dallas lost in 7 games to the Lakers. Upon leaving the Mavs in a trade to Detroit in 1989, Aguirre was the all-time leading scorer in franchise history and is still 3rd with 13,930 points behind running mate Rolando Blackman and Dirk Nowitzki.

Aguirre is however still the all-time leader in points per game at 24.6, ahead of Dirk’s 23. He’s also in the Mavs Top 10 in games (7th), minutes (6th), FG% (7th), rebounds (6th), assists (9th), and steals (8th).

Usurpers to the number: Jim Jackson, Hubert Davis, and Pavel Podkolzin

Derek Harper – #12 Dallas Mavericks

Derek Harper

Photo via Hardwood Hype

Initially splitting backcourt duties with Brad Davis (who in the big scheme of things was slightly worse but still has his number retired by Dallas), Derek Harper eventually became the lead PG general for those 80s Mavericks that were one tough cookie every season. In his 10+ seasons in Dallas, Harper just like Aguirre managed to get all over the Mavericks leader board. He’s #1 in assists and steals by a mile, is 3rd in games and minutes played and 4th in points scored. In addition, Harper was one tough son of a gun on defense. There’s a reason Pat Riley traded for him to bolster the Knicks in the mid-90s.

Usurpers to the number: none. De facto retirement mayhaps?

Jeff Mullins – #23 Golden State Warriors

Jeff Mullins

Via NBA.com

A useful secondary scorer, SG/SF Mullins stepped to forefront when Warriors star Rick Barry bolted for the ABA in the late 60s. 4x averaging 20+ points and a 3x all-star Mullins along with Nate Thurmond kept the Warriors afloat and competitive until Barry regained his senses and rejoined the team for the 1973 season. By the time Golden State won the title in 1975, Mullins was on his last legs, but they had a lot of good miles on them after 10 seasons of play for the Warriors. Mullins is top ten in games (3rd), minutes played (5th), points (6th) and assists (5th). Truly a forgotten Warrior.

Usurpers to the number: Mitch Richmond, Scott Burrell, Tim Legler, Jason Richardson, CJ Watson, Al Thornton

Nick Anderson – #25 Orlando Magic

Nick Anderson

Via Basketball Wives

His Magic career will forever be reduced to four missed free throws and that’s a shame. Surely, that’s the most memorable moment (in no small part because Orlando fans were just merciless in its aftermath) but it shouldn’t obscure the fact that the Magic wouldn’t have been in a situation for Nick to choke without Nick in the first place. He was the franchise’s first draft pick ever in 1989. Initially a 6th man over his first two years, Nick blossomed into a solid scorer and threat from downtown with back-to-back 19.9 ppg campaigns in 1992 and 1993. With the arrival of Shaq and later Penny Hardaway, Anderson’s offensive role reduced but he stepped up his defensive game becoming the Magic’s best perimeter defender on their way to the 1995 Finals. He was the last of the original Magic and spent 10 years with the franchise.

He’s the all-time leader in points, steals, games, minutes, FGs made, and FGs attempted. He’s also 5th in blocks and assists, 3rd in rebounds, and 2nd in 3-pointers made.

Usurpers to the number: Chris Gatling and Chris Duhon

Charles Oakley – #34 New York Knicks

Oak

Saving the best for the last. Oakley gave the Knicks the 10 most bad ass years from any player over the last 25 years. A muscular force of intimidation and rebounding, Oakley was the heart and soul of the Knicks teams that battled the Bulls and Pacers for Eastern Conference supremacy. That fearless demeanor on the court translates off it as well for Oakley and it may very well be preventing his jersey retirement. He’s been an unabashed critic of Knicks owner James Dolan for years. But if he had to kiss James’s boots for the ceremony, I say let the injustice continue.

Oak  is currently 6th in games played, 3rd in minutes and rebounds and 2nd in steals. And of course 1st in eraser flat tops.

 

Charles Oakley

Seth Carstens