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5 Greatest NBA players to wear No. 23 in league history

LeBron James #23 and Anthony Davis #3 of the LA Lakers.
LeBron James #23 and Anthony Davis #3 of the LA Lakers.
Victor R. Lopez M.

Number 23 is surely the most iconic and recognizable number in NBA history, mainly due to Michael Jordan's glorious career. LeBron James has also added immense greatness to the figure with his legendary, title-winning career with the Cleveland Cavaliers and LA Lakers (wearing 23).

In NBA history, 237 players have worn the number, whether it was for a full career or for a single game, according to Basketball Reference. In this article, we will give you the five greatest NBA players who have worn the number in their careers.

5 Best players to wear No. 23 in NBA history

Hall of Fame player Alex English deserves some recognition for wearing No. 23, even if it was for a short period during his career. Like English, other great players wore the number for some games.

Jimmy Butler, a likely future Hall of Fame member, also wore number 23 in his stints with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers.

Without further ado, let us start.


#5 Mitch Richmond

Richmond with the Golden State Warriors.
Richmond with the Golden State Warriors.

Mitch Richmond is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and played 14 seasons in the NBA with the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, Washington Wizards, and LA Lakers.

Richmond wore No. 23 for the Warriors during his tenure in the Run TMC era with Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin, and with the LA Lakers in his final NBA season (2001-02) when he was a member of the title-winning squad.

He earned six All-Stars and five All-NBA selections, won the 1988-89 Rookie of the Year award, the All-Star MVP in 1995 and the 2002 championship with the LA Lakers.


#4 Draymond Green

Green in 2018.
Green in 2018.

Draymond Green's impact and influence on the Golden State Warriors' three NBA championships between 2015 and 2018 will surely make him a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame after he retires.

Green, an NBA Defensive Player of the Year award winner, has been wearing the No. 23 ever since his career started in 2012 and it is more than likely that he will be the last player in the history of the Warriors to wear that number.

A three-time NBA champion, Green is also a three-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA, and five-time All-Defensive player.


#3 Anthony Davis

AD with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019.
AD with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019.

Even though Anthony Davis' major achievement in the NBA came with the LA Lakers and with No. 3 on his back, he wore the iconic 23 in the first seven seasons of his NBA career with the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans.

Just in his time at New Orleans with 23 on his back, Davis earned six All-Star selections, led the league in blocks three times, won an All-Star MVP, and averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds.

Overall, Davis has one NBA championship, eight All-Star appearances, four selections to the All-NBA teams and four to the All-Defensive teams.


#2 LeBron James

James in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game.
James in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game.

Even though he is arguably the greatest player in NBA history, LeBron James is not the most iconic No. 23 to have played in the league. Still, beyond Michael Jordan's own greatness while wearing No. 23, LeBron James is 'The King' of the NBA and won two titles with No. 23 on his back.

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James entered the league in 2003 and wore No.23 with the Cleveland Cavaliers until 2010, when he left for the Miami Heat and wore number six. He returned to Cleveland in 2014 and won the 2016 NBA title, before joining the LA Lakers in 2018 and achieving another championship with 23 on his jersey.

Overall, James is a four-time champion, four-time MVP winner, four-time Finals MVP and 17-time All-Star and has earned 16 All-NBA selections.


#1 Michael Jordan

'His Airness'.
'His Airness'.

Michael Jordan is the most iconic No. 23 in NBA history, and he really made the number the important figure it is on basketball fans' minds.

Jordan wore the number throughout his entire NBA career, except for his return from retirement in 1995 (he wore 45 because 23 was retired) and February 14th, 1990, when his jersey was stolen and he wore a generic Chicago Bulls' jersey with the number 12 on.

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Jordan played 1054 of his 1072 regular-season games with the iconic 23, and he simply made it one of the most famous numbers in all of sports.

MJ won a total of six NBA titles, six Finals MVPs, five regular-season MVPs, one Defensive Player of the Year award, 10 scoring titles and three All-Star MVPs in his 15-year career with the Bulls and Washington Wizards.


Also read: NBA Trade Rumors: 5 Teams that should target LaMarcus Aldridge


Edited by Rohit Mishra

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