One of the great honors to bestow upon a player is to have his jersey retired. It is an assessment by a team that this player did so much for our team that no one should ever wear that number again.
Now there are some players such as Kobe Bryant or Tim Duncan whose entire careers are with one team, and it's not to take away anything from them. However there are some players who accomplish a legacy with more than one team, and their jerseys are retired by both.
There have been 10 such players in NBA history. The following slideshow details who those players are.
There are three jerseys not mentioned. I'll mention them here to avoid confusion.
Both the Orlando Magic and the Sacramento Kings have retired the No. 6, "The Fans." Since the "fans" are not technically a player, and even if you do want to argue they are, they are different "fans" so that one doesn't count.
Michael Jordan has had his jersey retired by Chicago and by the Miami Heat for "contributions to basketball." Since he never actually played for the Heat, I did not count him.
Pete Maravich has his number retired by both the New Orleans Hornets and the Utah Jazz. He actually played for the New Orleans Jazz, which is why his number ends up getting retired by the city's present franchise and its past franchise.
The other 10 players actually played games for both franchises. They are listed in alphabetical order to avoid any argument about who should be ranked where.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played the first part of his career, from 1970-1975, with the Milwaukee Bucks. While there he led the team to an NBA title. He averaged 30.4 points, 15.3 rebounds and 3.4 blocks a game. He remains the Bucks' career leader in many categories, including points and rebounds, and is seventh in franchise history in assists.
He also led Milwaukee to an NBA title in his second season, their third as a franchise. They swept the Bullets in the finals and only lost two games in winning the postseason. He won three MVPs while with the Bucks.
In 1976 he played his first game in Los Angeles after being traded to the Lakers. In Laker history he is third in scoring, second in rebounding and sixth in assists. He is also their career leader in blocks.
While with the Lakers, he was paired with another one of the great players in NBA history, Magic Johnson. With the pair, the team won five more championships.
He won three more MVPs while with the Lakers.
Charles Barkley was with the Philadelphia 76ers from 1985 to 1992. While there, Barkley shot for a gargantuan .640 true shooting percentage and averaged 23.6 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. The team went to the Eastern Conference finals in his rookie season.
In 1993, after being traded to the Suns, he averaged over 25 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in leading the Suns to the NBA Finals where they fell to the Bulls in six games. That season he won the MVP.
While he only spent four seasons with the Suns, he was one of the better players in franchise history, averaging the highest PER in team history at 24.7.
Wilt Chamberlain is the only player in NBA history to have his jersey retired by three teams. The Golden State Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers have all retired his jersey.
Chamberlain was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1960. He immediately had an enormous impact for the franchise. He won the Rookie of the Year award and the MVP averaging 37.6 points and 27 rebounds in his rookie year.
Since then only one player other than Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, has ever recorded a higher scoring average for a season.
During his tenure with the Warriors, Chamberlain posted some massive individual efforts, averaging 41.5 points and 25.1 rebounds per game. In 1962 he posted the NBA's only 4,000-point season when he averaged 50.4 points per game.
It should be noted that Chamberlain played with a narrower, 12-foot lane during this time, which aided his totals.
Midway through the '65 season the Warriors, who had moved to San Francisco, traded Chamberlain to the Philadelphia 76ers. Chamberlain won the MVP again in each of the three full seasons he spent with the 76ers, including the year that he finally won an NBA Championships, 1967.
In 1968 he led the league in assists, the only center to ever accomplish that feat. He also is the only player in NBA history to have led the league at some point in his career in scoring, rebounds and assists.
He is the 76ers' all-time leader in points per game, rebounds per game and PER.
In 1969 he was again traded to the Lakers where he finished his career. In Los Angeles he slowed down, "only" averaging 17.7 points, 19.2 boards and 4.3 assists per game. While there he was teamed with three other Hall of Fame players—Jerry West, Gail Goodrich and Elgin Baylor.
Chamberlain helped the Lakers to a championship in 1972 and was the finals MVP.
Clyde Drexler started his career in Portland. He is the Trail Blazers' career leader in 15 different categories, including points, rebounds, minutes and games. He is also second in franchise history in assists.
Twice he led the team to the NBA finals. First the team fell to Detroit in 1990. In 1992 he became another member of the VOJ (Victims of Jordan) club.
In 1995, Portland accommodated Drexler's request to be traded to a contender and traded him to Houston. That year he finally won his first and only title. Drexler was crucial to Houston, averaging 20.1 points, seven rebounds and five assists during the postseason. He led the NBA in offensive win shares during the postseason.
Julius Erving, aka "Dr. J," was drafted by the Virginia Squires of the ABA. The Squires, on the verge of financial collapse, were forced to trade Erving to the Nets. He averaged 28.2 points per game while with New Jersey, and is the franchise career leader in PER, at 26.8. Erving led the Nets to two ABA Championships and won three ABA MVPs and scoring titles.
After the merger the Nets were forced to pay the Knicks money for "invading their territory" which prevented them from being able to pay Erving the contract they had promised him. In order to stay solvent, the Nets sold Erving's contract to Philadelphia for $3 million.
In Philadelphia, Erving became the franchise's fourth-leading scorer, and is also fourth in career assists and seventh in career rebounds for the franchise. The team won the 1983 championship while Erving played there. He was also the NBA MVP in 1981.
Bob Lanier was drafted by the Detroit Pistons. He played with the Pistons for just over 10 years, and averaged 22.7 points, 11.8 boards and two blocks per game. He is second all-time with the franchise in Win Shares.
He was traded to Milwaukee in 1980 and every year he was there the Bucks won their division. His numbers were not exceptional in Milwaukee. He scored just 13.5 points and averaged 5.9 boards, but the Bucks found it fit to retire his jersey. Perhaps because of the leadership he brought in helping the Bucks to win the five division titles.
Moses Malone started off his career in the ABA, playing two years there. In his third year the merger happened and Malone, through a convoluted series of trades, ended up playing most of his first NBA season with the Houston Rockets, where he stayed on for five more years.
During his tenure there, he scored 24 points per game and averaged 15 rebounds (weirdly those are actually round numbers!) while with Houston. He won two MVPs while with the Rockets, in 1979 and 1982.
As a restricted free agent, he signed with Philadelphia in 1983 joining fellow former ABA All-Star Julius Erving. Immediately the signing paid dividends as his first year in Philadelphia the star center won the regular season and finals MVP. The 1983 76ers are widely regarded as one of the best single-season teams in NBA history.
Earl "the Pearl" Monroe is the only player to have his jersey retired twice by two unique teams. Every other player on this list has had their jersey retired by either the Warriors, 76ers, Rockets or Bucks. No other player on this list has had their number retired by the Wizards or the Knicks.
He was a somewhat unusual player in that he lost consecutive finals with two different teams. I'm not sure that it's been done by anyone else, particularly a leading player on both teams.
His tenure with the Baltimore Bullets saw him teamed with Wes Unseld. His spectacular playmaking ability made him a huge star there.
When he went to New York, he was paired with Walt Frazier. The pair are widely viewed as the greatest backcourt combination in the history of the game. The pair, along with Bill Bradley, led the team to an NBA Championship in 1973, beating the Lakers 4-1.
Oscar Robertson started off his career with the Cincinnati Royals. He was one of the great all-around players in the history of the game. To date he is still the Kings' franchise leader in points and assists and is third in rebounds.
It was during his tenure in Cincinnati that Robertson famously recorded his triple-double season, averaging 30.8 points, 11.4 assists and 12.5 rebounds his second year in the league. In his 10 years with the franchise, Robertson average 29.8 points, 10.3 assists and 8.5 rebounds.
After a decade he was dealt to the Milwaukee Bucks, where he was teamed with the young Lew Alcindor, and the pair won the 1971 NBA title.
Nate Thurmond stepped into the starting center spot after Wilt Chamberlain left the Warriors—literally and figuratively huge shoes to fill. Thurmond did exactly that, breaking the record Chamberlain had set for career rebounds.
Thurmond also leads the franchise in minutes played and is second in games. He is their third all-time leading scorer and all-time leader in defensive win shares. Unfortunately, the year after he was traded to Chicago, the Warriors won the title.
His first game in Chicago he recorded the NBA's first-ever quadruple-double with 22 points, 14 boards, 13 assists and 12 blocked shots.
After half a season in Chicago he was dealt to Cleveland where he finished his career and led the Cavaliers to the Eastern Conference finals. While his numbers were far from overwhelming, just around five points and five boards per game, Cleveland still retired his number because of his role in leading them to the conference finals.