Jerry Stackhouse: The First to Wear No. 42 in Brooklyn Since Jackie Robinson

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIISeptember 21, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 21:  Jerry Stackhouse #42 of the Atlanta Hawks reaches for a steal against Samardo Samuels #24 of the Cleveland Cavaliers at Philips Arena on January 21, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On July 11, the Brooklyn Nets brought in veteran guard-forward Jerry Stackhouse on a one-year contract worth $1.3 million.

The 37-year-old will be asked to provide veteran leadership on the squad, while also playing a few minutes in garbage-time situations.

Stackhouse has worn No. 42 nearly all his life in honor of Jackie Robinson. Robinson, Stackhouse's favorite athlete of all time, made his mark in the sports world as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

After Robinson retired from baseball, the Dodgers organization unofficially retired his number—it was not officially retired until 1972. Since that time, nobody has worn the No. 42 in Brooklyn.

Stackhouse and the Nets both recognize this, but Stackhouse has been officially issued the number that he has worn for the past 17 seasons.

While it is just a number, the symbolic value of this particular number is undeniable. Basketball is an entirely different sport than baseball, but Robinson paved the way for African-American athletes in all sports.

Now, there's no rule against Stackhouse wearing No. 42—as I said earlier, baseball and basketball are completely different sports—but I'm not sure I love the decision by Stackhouse to don the number this season.

All eyes will be on the Nets this season; their new arena and revamped squad will surely be exciting to watch. Stackhouse may not be playing all that much, but the fact that No. 42 will be worn again in Brooklyn just doesn't sit right with me.

It may just be a number, but it's the number of the man who changed the world of sports as we know it.