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Pat Riley Congratulated Michael Jordan After The Miami Heat Retired His Number 23 Jersey: "No Player Will Ever Wear Number 23 For The Heat Again. You’re The Best.”


Michael Jordan had an impact on the game that was so massive that it is truly hard to put into words. Jordan entered the NBA in 1984 and went on to have one of, if not the greatest career in NBA history. Jordan is one of the most revered figures in the NBA. And when his exit from the game seemed imminent, Pat Riley and the Miami Heat showed him the ultimate sign of respect.

In 2003, as Jordan was on what many considered a ceremonial retirement tour, he and the Washington Wizards traveled to Miami to play against the Heat. Before the game, Pat Riley, the head coach and president of basketball operations for the Miami Heat, announced that the franchise would be retiring the number 23 jersey out of deference and respect to Michael Jordan.

"No player will ever wear the number 23 for the Heat again. You're the best."

It was a truly historic gesture from the Heat, who really didn't have any obligation to do so. Jordan never played for the Heat and didn't really need his jersey number retired. But Riley and the Heat organization respected MJ so much that they felt it was the right thing to do.

Jordan became the first player in NBA history to have a jersey retired by a franchise that he never played for. While there were multiple players like Wilt Chamberlain and Pete Maravich who had their jerseys retired by multiple franchises, Jordan was the first to have his retired by a team he didn't represent. In 2020, the Dallas Mavericks did the same for Kobe Bryant.

Because of the Miami Heat retiring Jordan's jersey, LeBron James adopted a new number. LeBron James joined the Miami Heat in 2010 and abandoned the number 23 to opt for the number 6 jersey. There is no doubt that LeBron's jersey will be retired by the Heat. It will be a historic moment, seeing both LeBron James' and Michael Jordan''s jersey numbers hanging from the rafters in Miami.