You are sitting on the couch on a Saturday night. The TV is tuned to the sports channel and the match between Utah Jazz and Golden State Warriors is on the fourth quarter. With only a minute remaining, the score is tied at 98; Warriors are in possession. Then suddenly, you hear a foul called on Jazz’s No. 27. You picture Gobert’s disappointed face as the TV screen shifts to a quick round of advertisements.
Numbers are very important in basketball. Usually printed in large, bold characters, the jersey number aids the commentators, referees, and viewers to easily identify the players in the court. With a hundred numbers to choose from, it’s interesting how those who make basketball their career choose their own and make a trademark out of it. Let’s see how some Utah Jazz players decided on theirs.
1. Donovan Mitchell. This Louisville Cardinals’ alumnus is always associated with the No. 45 ever since his college days. He based his jersey number on his on-court hero, Michael Jordan. You may be wondering why this is so since Jordan is always linked to No. 23 in his Bulls jersey. Believe it or not, Jordan indeed sported No. 45 during high school and the 1994-95 NBA season.
2. Jae Crowder. Throughout his career, this forward used three different jersey numbers. He is currently using No. 99 and he is the only one in the NBA with such number. When he started his career in the NBA with Dallas Mavericks, he used No. 9 but when he was traded to Boston Celtics, he switched to No. 99 in honor of his best friend. He also used No. 32 when he played for Marquette University as with basketball legend Magic Johnson.
3. Rudy Gobert. This French center was selected 27th overall pick by the Denver Nuggets and traded to the Jazz. He used the No. 27 because of this.
4. Royce O’Neale. Just like Mitchell, O’Neale also retained the No. 23 jersey number from his college basketball years.
5. Alec Burks. This shooting guard used No. 11 at college basketball, and later opted to No. 10 when he entered NBA.
Of course, not all numbers between zero and 99, as allowed by the NBA, are up for grabs for Utah Jazz. Some of these are already retired in honor of the team’s legends. These include No. 1 for Frank Laden, Jazz’s General Manager and Head Coach; No. 9 for Larry H. Miller, businessman, philanthropist, and owner of the team; and No. 1223 for Jerry Sloan, former head coach, based on the total sum of a number of regular NBA seasons he was in (1127), playoff wins (96) while he was Jazz’s head coach.
So while you are sitting in your couch watching TV that is tuned in at a basketball match, be it the NBA or FIBA, take a while to notice the different jersey numbers of the athletes. There’s always an interesting story behind these numeric characters. The next thing you know, you might even find yourself Google-ing the jersey number stories of your favorite basketball players.
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