The NBA's Best: By The Numbers, Part 1

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The NBA's Best: By The Numbers, Part 1

A fellow Bleacher Report contributor recently invited me to read an article he wrote concerning a tradition he has initiated to celebrate each of his son's birthdays.

Each year, his boy will receive a jersey bearing the retired number of one of baseball's all-time greats that matches his current age.

Inspired by his list, I created my own for the NBA. Here, you will find my thoughts on who represents the best NBA player—past or current—to ever don a specific uniform number, ranging from 00 (Robert Parish) to 50 (David Robinson).

Where the choice has been a tough one, I have given an 'honorable mention' to those players who come close but ultimately fail to represent the best player to ever wear a given number.

Karl Malone and Shaquille O'Neal, for instance, both fall short of Magic Johnson as the best NBA player to wear number 32, yet their accomplishments in that uniform still warrant recognition.

For players who have worn more than one uniform number during their careers, I have limited their eligibility to the number they wore the most.

That means, for example, that Kobe Bryant is only eligible for uniform number 8, even though he has worn number 24 for the past few years.

One other disclaimer before we begin: Due to the limited number of players to wear a uniform number in the ranges 26-29, 36-39 and 46-49 inclusive, I have not provided an entry here, even though an obvious choice may exist.

Andrei Kirilenko probably has a lock on No. 47 given his nickname (i.e. AK-47) and Russian origins, but he falls in one of those relatively non-competitive ranges that will not be considered here.

[Incidentally, for those who may not know, basketball officials have historically resisted the desire by players to choose numbers ending with anything greater than five.

Simply put, signaling the number of a player to the scorer's table is more difficult to achieve when you need both hands to indicate the number].

Without further delay, I hope you enjoy Part 1 of the show, which will cover the range of numbers from 00 through 10.

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