The NBA is the center stage of the world of basketball. Legends of the sport have played their best game on the NBA courts for their respective franchise. Over the years, many franchises have retired certain jersey numbers in order to commemorate the contributions of their all-time greats. But some jersey retirements have raised eyebrows for different controversial reasons among fans and analysts of the sport.
Today we take a look at some of the most controversial NBA jersey retirements that did not settle well with the fans. It wouldn’t be fair to name the list as the worst NBA players to have their jerseys retired – but their jersey retirements were still controversial nonetheless.
Although Brad Davis played across 12 seasons in the league for the Dallas Mavericks, his contributions to the team were almost non-existent. The guard hardly hit double digits in scoring and his career-best for the franchise was a shabby 12.1 points.
If his individual stats are below mediocre, the fact that Davis never made an all-star team speaks exactly how shoddy the player was. Nevertheless, the Mavericks retired his #15 jersey, raising questions all across the league.
Milwaukee Bucks – Junior Bridgeman #2
Junior Bridgeman played as a small forward from 1975 to 1984. Playing for the Bucks, Bridgeman’s particular role was at scoring, where he perhaps performed below mediocre. His highest season average at the franchise pushes at only 17.6 per game, and never really made the case for a prolific scorer.
He would later earn his fortune in the fast food industry, but Bridgeman did not earn even a single all-star nomination during his career. Perhaps the only thing that prompted the Bucks to retire his #2 jersey is the fact that he played the most games for the franchise.
Boston Celtics – Don Nelson #19
Nelson played as a forward for the Boston Celtics from 1965 to 1976. And you guessed it right – he was part of all the five Championships they won during the period. But what makes his case rather weak for a jersey retirement is that he seldom ever started!
Don Nelson was basically a bench player, but an average bench player, nevertheless. His numbers surely weren’t up to the mark, but perhaps the Celtics just retired the majority of their title-winning team from the 1970s.
Sacramento Kings – Vlade Divac #21
The Serbian Center played for the Sacramento Kings from 1998 to 2004. During his time with the franchise, his role in the squad was perhaps too much for him to handle and Divac didn’t overly live up to the task.
He averaged 11 points and 8.9 rebounds during his time with the Kings. Fortunately for his case, Vlade Divac was named an all-star in 2001. Still, Divac’s jersey retirement by the Sacramento Kings did raise a few questions among analysts of the sport.
Portland Trail Blazers – Dave Twardzik #13
There’s a joke that runs in a minority of the Trail Blazers fanbase that the franchise retired Dave Twardzik’s No #13 to escape the omen surrounding the number itself. As harsh as it is on the player, Twardzik’s time with the Trail Blazers from 1975 to 1980 doesn’t make a better case for him either.
A point guard that failed to average a double-digit in scoring and never crossed the 3.5 assists per game is surely below the bar. The 1977 Championship title is perhaps the only reason they considered retiring a number for a player that played four seasons with their franchise and hardly had any impact at all.
Ritvik Malhotra is an NBA editor and writer for FirstSportz. He has previously worked with renowned media outlets such as FootTheBall and EssentiallySports. He has been following the NBA for nearly a decade and has been a diehard fan of Kevin Durant since his heydays with the Oklahoma City Thunder. When not writing about the beautiful game, he enjoys his rock playlist.
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