The jersey No. 34 features a very star-studded class. Among those at the top, you have two of the best centers to ever play the game, followed by two of the best power forwards as well. With Giannis Antetokounmpo owning plenty of prime years left in his career, he could see his name and jersey fly to the top of these rankings one day.
Among others, you have one of the best Celtics players in team history along with one of the greatest three-point shooters in NBA history. There have been a lot of players to wear the No. 34 jerseys in the history of the NBA. These are the 10 best players to ever wear it.
10. Clyde Lovellette
Career Statistics: 17.0 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.6 APG
Years Worn: 1954-1964
Lovellette had a stellar basketball career. He was the first player to ever play on an NCAA, Olympic, AAU, and NBA championship team. He was a tall, physical, high-scoring center. His senior year at Kansas, he led the nation in scoring and became the only player to lead the league in scoring and win an NCAA Championship. He was named the Most Outstanding Player in the tournament.
In the NBA, he became one of the first big men to move outside and show off his shooting range. This allowed him to play both small forward and power forward on top of playing his natural position of center. During his 11-year career, he was an integral component of the championship Lakers in Minneapolis in 1954, as well as the Boston Celtics in 1963 and 1964.
9. Isaiah Rider
Career Statistics: 16.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.7 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Years Worn: 1994-2000, 2001-2002
Rider is best known for winning the Slam Dunk Contest in 1994 during his rookie season. Rider guaranteed a dunk contest win when he delivered the famous East Bay Funk Dunk, which was when he had the ball go between the legs while in the air. Other accomplishments include winning a championship ring with the 2001-2002 Lakers.
Rider spent parts of nine seasons with the Timberwolves, who drafted him No. 5 overall in 1993, Trail Blazers, Hawks, Lakers, and Nuggets. His prime seasons came in Minnesota where he was a frequent leading scorer for the team.
8. Tobias Harris
Career Statistics: 16.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.2 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Years Worn: 2016-2019
When Harris joined the 76ers midway through 2018, he switched to No. 33 because No. 34 was retired by the 76ers to honor Charles Barkley. When Harris entered his first full season with the team, he decided to change his number to No. 12 to honor his old childhood friend Morgan Childs. Harris and Childs played AAU basketball together and No. 12 was his number. Childs died of leukemia.
In the pros, Harris has had a successful career where he has been close to averaging 18 points per game in Philly. With Ben Simmons out this year, Harris has risen to being the team’s second-best scoring option. Even with Simmons in the lineup, Harris was likely the second-best offensive player on the team in general. After helping lead the team to the No. 1 seed last year, Harris is now trying to get Philly back on track this year.
7. Terry Cummings
Career Statistics: 16.4 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Years Worn: 1983-1997
Cummings is a two-time All-Star that enjoyed a successful 18-year career. The first 10 years of his career saw him average double-digits, as well as averaging at least 20 points per game in seven of those seasons. He did all of that while wearing the No. 34.
There is little evidence for why Cummings wanted to wear No. 34, but he enjoyed his prime seasons while playing with the Bucks. After that, he enjoyed six successful seasons with the Spurs before bouncing around the league to end his career.
6. Ray Allen
Career Statistics: 18.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Years Worn: 1997-2007, 2013-2014
There’s no concrete proof on why Ray Allen wore No. 34, but we can assume it’s because it’s the jersey that he wore while he attended the University of Connecticut. Allen’s jersey was recently retired by UConn, so it’s only natural that Allen wanted to wear the same number when he played for the Bucks and SuperSonics. Allen had to give up the number when he joined the Celtics in 2007 because it was already being worn by Paul Pierce.
Some believe that Allen’s number should be retired by the Bucks, but naysayers believe that Allen didn’t do enough to deserve that honor. After all, Allen’s first championship came with the Celtics, while his second came when he joined the Heat. Allen was once heralded as the greatest three-point shooter until Steph Curry recently broke his all-time record.
5. Paul Pierce
Career Statistics: 19.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Years Worn: 1999-2017
Pierce was never a man for a change. The No. 34 and Pierce could be seen as high school sweethearts if you get down to it. Pierce wore No. 34 in high school and then wore it all three seasons while playing at Kansas. When he joined the NBA, Pierce didn’t want to change his number because of the last seven years. Then, he wore it for almost 20 years in the pros.
In the pros, Pierce finished as the second-best scorer in Celtics history and helped the team win a championship in 2008, where he won Finals MVP over the Lakers. The Celtics quickly retired Pierce’s jersey at the Garden in honor of all his efforts. After all the years he donned that jersey, it would feel wrong if anyone else wore it in Boston.
4. Charles Barkley
Career Statistics: 22.1 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Years Worn: 1985-1991, 1993-1996
When Barkley began his career with the 76ers, he was able to snag the No. 34. However, there was one season that Barkley didn’t wear this number. After Magic Johnson announced his sudden retirement due to HIV, Barkley chose to change his jersey from his original 34 to the No. 32. At the time, he had to get permission from 76ers legend Billy Cunningham to have the number temporarily unretired.
When Barkley joined the Suns, he endured immediate success with the change back. It was during the 1992-1993 season that Barkley won his lone MVP trophy and led the Suns to the NBA Finals despite losing to the Chicago Bulls. The final three seasons he played in Houston, Barkley gave up his original number.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Career Statistics: 21.2 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.3 BPG
Years Worn: 2014-2022
Since entering the league, Giannis has worn the No. 34 every season with the Bucks. The reason that he wears this jersey number is because of his parents. Giannis is on record telling NBA reporters that he chose to wear No. 34 because those are the years that his mother and father were born. His mother was born in 1963, while his father was born in 1964. His Bucks teammate and brother, Thanasis wears No. 43 for the same reasons. It’s a nice tribute to his parents.
Giannis is enjoying a Hall of Fame career so far with many more prime years to come. Giannis owns two regular-season MVPs while adding to his collection with a Finals MVP this past year. With Giannis at the front of the pack, the Bucks won their first championship since 1971 in 2021.
2. Hakeem Olajuwon
Career Statistics: 21.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, 3.1 BPG
Years Worn: 1985-2000, 2002
Olajuwon’s choice for wearing No. 34 goes back to his college days. After redshirting a season at the University of Houston, Olajuwon was forced to pick a jersey for the 1981-1982 season. During those days, the Houston players had two jersey numbers, an odd number for the road and an even number for at home. Olajuwon wanted to wear No. 33, which would give him No. 32 for home games. However, Benny Anders had already claimed that, so Olajuwon opted for No. 34 instead.
After that, destiny fell into his lap as that was his number for the majority of his NBA career. Other Texas legends Nolan Ryan and Earl Campbell join Olajuwon as icons wearing No. 34 in the state. Olajuwon wrote his own story of bringing two championships to the Rockets during his playing days along with a Hall of a Fame basketball career.
1. Shaquille O’Neal
Career Statistics: 23.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.3 BPG
Years Worn: 1997-2004
Shaq’s first two choices were taken when it came to a jersey number. When Shaq joined the Lakers, his jersey number with Orlando (No. 32) was not available because it was retired to honor Magic Johnson. His alternative choice, No. 33, was his jersey number when he attended Louisiana State University, but that jersey was retired in honor of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Shaq ultimately decided on No. 34 because that was the number his stepfather wore in the Army. When Shaq delivered his news conference in 1996, he honored his stepfather in the public eye. After that, Shaq teamed up with Kobe Bryant to bring three championships to town, along with a regular-season MVP and three Finals MVPs of his own. No. 34 may not have been his first choice, but he is the best to ever wear it in NBA history.