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NBA Jerseys Before They Became Iconic: Kobe's 8 And 24 Were Used By Different Players

NBA Jerseys Before They Became Iconic: Kobe's 8 And 24 Were Used By Different Players

The NBA has seen its fair share of iconic players over the years. Players have come into the NBA and completely redefined the way the game is played and how the league works. One of the most identifiable traits of these iconic players is their jersey numbers. Upon retiring, a lot of teams usually commemorate these players and the impact they had on their team by retiring their jerseys so no one can wear them again.

But a lot of times, these players come into the league without a lot of recognition. And the jersey they choose, given the historic nature of the league, is likely to have been worn by someone else. Taking a look at some pictures from the past, it is truly bizarre to see some of the NBA’s most iconic jersey numbers be worn by players who did not define them to be what they are.

Kobe Bryant had 2 iconic jersey numbers - 8 and 24. But both had been worn by other players before his arrival. The number 8 was worn by Randolph Keys in the 1994-95 NBA season. As for the number 24, it was last worn by Jim Jackson, who even played with Bryant for a brief stint while wearing the number.

As for Michael Jordan, his number 23 with the Bulls is arguably the most iconic jersey number in NBA history. But his number 23 was worn by a guard named Mike Bratz just 2 seasons before Jordan entered the league. Ironically, Bratz also wore the number 23 for the Cavaliers, years before another sensation would come and make the number his own.

But the last player to wear the number 23 for the Cavaliers before LeBron James was Derek Anderson. As for Larry Bird, he succeeded Steve Kuberski for number 33 with the Celtics, and Magic did the same with Cazzie Russell, who wore 32 before his legendary stint with the Lakers.

Tim Duncan's legendary number 21 Spurs jersey was last worn by an NBA legend - Dominique Wilkins. Stephen Curry took the number 30 jersey from the Warriors almost 10 years after it was last worn by Bill Curley. But perhaps the team that had the best follow-up in terms of a jersey number is the Denver Nuggets.

The Denver Nuggets had Carmelo Anthony, one of their best homegrown superstars wear the number 15 jersey for 8 years. And after him, the jersey has become iconic for the franchise once again, now worn by perennial All-Star and reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic. 

These players all made the jersey number they wore truly iconic. And there is no doubt that the active players mentioned in this list will have their jerseys retired by their respective franchises. But it is truly strange to think that their iconic jerseys were worn by other players before they came into the league.