The Los Angeles Lakers announced at the end of August that they would be retiring two key numbers from the past, both of which make a ton of sense. Shaquille O'Neal's No. 34 jersey and Jamaal Wilkes' No. 52 jersey will be out of the rotation after they lift them up into the rafters, both deservedly so.
Sure, Shaq is a slam dunk, and even those people who have never heard of Wilkes can look up his stats and justify his number being retired, but it has raised an interesting question regarding retiring numbers. Where do you draw the line between a fan favorite who played well enough for a case to be made for jersey retirement and one who perhaps doesn't have the historic numbers of other guys hanging in the rafters?
Retiring a player's number is completely arbitrary in the end. It doesn't make someone more likely to get into the Hall of Fame and it doesn't alter a legacy, it just honors it. A player's number being retired should be and is totally up to the team, and the people who run the team usually have both the pulse of the city and the team's history well in hand.
For that reason, I could get behind retiring quite a few jerseys of guys who have retired recently, including someone like the recently retired Jeff Foster. That's not a name I'm just pulling out of nowhere, it's a name that widens the scope of players who could be considered for jersey retirement.
Foster averaged just five points and seven rebounds a game in his career, which is uninspiring. However, he became the second-longest tenured member of the Pacers next to Reggie Miller, and his presence with the team bridged the gap between eras, marking him as a very important player in Indiana's history.
He was a bit like Brian Scalabrine in his waning years, but he was good enough in his prime to play every day and contribute to a team that was consistently atop the Eastern Conference.
It may seem an unimportant distinction, but there are two types of retired jerseys across the league; those of truly great players and those of historically popular and important players—with the distinctions sometimes crossing. Guys like Shaq would be one of the former, while someone like Foster or Brad Davis would be the latter.
With that, it seems pertinent to take a look at which players still dribbling would have the best shot at getting their jerseys retired and which are dancing somewhere along the borderline.