We are inside of two months until the start of the 2019-20 NBA season, when the league’s many new superstar pairings will finally be unveiled. What better way to pass the time than to count down these final 55 days by arguing over who wore each jersey number best until we reach No. 00.
There are currently 31 days until the season opener on Oct. 22. So, who wore No. 31 best?
Brent Barry, the spawn of Hall of Famer Rick Barry, won the dunk contest wearing a warmup jacket over his No. 31 L.A. Clippers jersey as a rookie in 1996. He went on to win a pair of championships with the San Antonio Spurs ... wearing No. 17.
Shane Battier, The No-Stats All-Star.
Sam Bowie, the No. 2 overall pick in the 1984 NBA draft, ahead of Michael Jordan.
Ricky Davis, failed triple-double artist.
Cedric Maxwell, a.k.a. Cornbread, wore No. 31 for six seasons with the Boston Celtics, winning a pair of championships and capturing 1981 Finals MVP honors. Now a colorful radio analyst for the team, his 31 hangs in the TD Garden rafters.
Darko Milicic, the carp fisherman, kickboxer and farmer with even wilder tattoos, infamously drafted ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to the 2004 champion Detroit Pistons, wore 31 for all but one of his 468 career games.
Swen Nater, a two-time ABA All-Star, donned No. 31 for all but two of his 11 NBA seasons. A two-time NCAA champion with John Wooden, Bill Walton and the UCLA dynasty, Nater sported a sweet mustache and an even sweeter life story.
Spencer Haywood, a Hall of Famer, won a title with the Los Angeles Lakers wearing No. 31 in 1980, but wore No. 24 for his five All-Star appearances, including a 1869-70 campaign in which he won ABA Rookie of the Year and MVP honors.
Warren Jabali, a high-flying ABA legend, toggled between Nos. 15 and 31 during his rookie season with the Oakland Oaks — a year in which he won Rookie of the Year and a championship — and then stuck with No. 15 on his rise to All-Stardom.
Caron Butler, a two-time All-Star, did not turn to No. 31 until the final two seasons of a 14-year career, well after his prime as No. 3 on the Washington Wizards.
Joe Johnson, a seven-time All-Star, wore No. 31 for half a season as a rookie with the Boston Celtics, and has since abandoned it for his last 16 NBA seasons, including seven All-Star campaigns wearing Nos. 2 and 7 in Phoenix and Brooklyn.
Steve Jones, a.k.a. Snapper, also wore No. 31 as a rookie on the Oaks, but switched to No. 23 for his three straight All-Star nods on three different ABA teams.
Deron Williams, a three-time All-Star, donned No. 8 throughout his 12-year career until turning to No. 31 for a half-season failed Finals run on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Jarrett Allen, the starting center for the surprising Brooklyn Nets last season who may be surprised to lose his job to DeAndre Jordan in 2019-20, is the active jersey champion, especially since Terrence Ross changed numbers. Tomas Satoransky, he of the new $30 million contract, may have something to say about No. 31, though.
Zelmo Beaty, a recent Hall of Fame inductee, wore No. 31 for all five of his All-Star seasons with the St. Louis Hawks (NBA) and Utah Stars (ABA), including his run with Utah to the 1971 ABA championship and Playoffs MVP honors.
Shawn Marion, a four-time All-Star, 2011 NBA champion and oft-mentioned Hall of Fame snub, wore No. 31 in nine of his 15 seasons, including his ascendance to stardom as a selfless and position-less Matrix on the seven-seconds-or-less Suns.
Jack Twyman, a Hall of Famer, sported three different numbers for the Royals of Rochester and Cincinnati, including 31 for the last two of his six All-Star seasons. More importantly, at age 23 he became the legal guardian to Maurice Stokes, his Hall of Fame teammate who was paralyzed by a nasty on-court fall. Twyman, who also called the Willis Reed game, cared for Stokes until his friend’s death in 1970.
The Jersey Champion
Reggie Miller, a Hall of Famer, wore No. 31 for the entirety of an 18-year career with the Indiana Pacers that included five All-Star appearances and a trip to the 2000 Finals. He retired as the NBA’s all-time leader in successful 3-pointers, a mark that has since been passed by Ray Allen and will likely fall to Stephen Curry, too, but there is no questioning his status as the most legendary No. 31 in NBA history.
Pour one out for Miller time.
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