After 75 years, there have already been countless greats in NBA. Different eras, different generations, and different positions, but talent will always be the same. Would you believe that there’s a certain group of legendary players who wore the same number? Yes, there is! The number 34 has seen the best of the best athletes throughout the course of the sport, but, we will be looking at the 10 best players to ever wear the jersey. Ranking them from worst to best, let’s see who gets to the number one spot.
Fun fact: Read the article and you would see that three of them played for the Milwaukee Bucks but none of their jerseys are retired by the Bucks yet.
10. Tobias Harris
Years worn: 2016~2018 (Detroit Pistons), 2018~2019 (Los Angeles Clippers)
Tobias Harris has worn the numbers 12,33, and 34, but the peak in his career was during his stint with the Los Angeles Clippers where he wore the number 34.
In 2018 – after the end of the Lob City era but before Kawhi and Paul George – Tobi carried the franchise and averaged 21 points and 8 rebounds but was snubbed to the All-Star game. Throughout his career, Tobias was a very underrated scorer. Although his talent was rewarded by a max contract in Philly, most fans think that he has robbed the Sixers. Aside from getting a huge bag ($32 Million a year), Harris is yet to achieve any major award in the NBA.
9. Isaiah Rider
Years worn: 1994~1996 (Minnesota Timberwolves), 1997~1999 (Portland Trailblazers), 2000 (Atlanta Hawks), 2002 (Denver Nuggets)
Every old head NBA fan would remember Isaiah Rider’s impressive Dunk Contest in 1994. Winning the championship over the great Shawn Kemp, Rider was absolutely an amazing dunker to watch.
Although Orlando Woolridge originated the “between the legs” dunk or commonly known as the “East bay funk dunk”, Rider’s explosive dunk became the benchmark. The man did have hops and not only was he a dunker, but he was also a deadly scorer. In a three-year span, he would average 19 points per game in Minnesota. He was on the way to an All-Star career and had the potential to be a Hall-of-Famer, however, it was cut short due to controversies, drug addiction, and assault charges. Thankfully, he won a chip with Los Angeles Lakers in 2001.
8. Terry Cummings
Years worn: 1983~1984 (San Diego Clippers), 1985~1989, 1996 (Milwaukee Bucks ), 1990~1995 (San Antonio Spurs), 1997 (Seattle Supersonics), 1998 (Philadelphia 76ers)
Even as a rookie, Terry Cummings was already a superstar in the making. He played for 18 seasons in the NBA but his most productive years were during the first half of his career. From his rookie year until 1991, Cummings averaged 21 points a game.
Unfortunately, his prime would be halted after a serious knee injury in 1992 which forced him to cut his season short. Since that, he would bounce around the league and would never recover. In his prime, Cummings was a two-time All-star and two-time All-NBA and was selected the 1983 Rookie of the year over James Worthy and Dominique Wilkins.
7. Clyde Lovellette
Years worn: 1954~1957 (Minneapolis Lakers), 1958 (Cincinnati Royals), 1959~1962 (St. Louis Hawks), 1964 (Boston Celtics)
Only a few would know how amazing Clyde Lovellette’s career was and how great of an impact he had years before the NBA was a well-known league.
Clyde made history by being the first basketball player to play in the NCAA (College) and the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union), be drafted into an NBA team, and then play for the U.S. in the Olympics. In his generation, most bigs were always considered to play under the basket, but Clyde – who played forward in college – was a stretch big man, before it even was a thing. In his 11-year career, he won championships with the Lakers and the Celtics. Later on, Lovellette would become a Hall-of-Famer and cement his legacy in the sport of basketball.
6. Ray Allen
Years worn: 1997~2003 (Milwaukee Bucks), 2003~2007 (Seattle Supersonics), 2013~2014 (Miami Heat)
Previously the best shooter on Earth before Steph Curry came, Ray Allen was already shooting 40-footer three-point attempts before Steph was doing it. He even made ridiculous shots from behind the arc that made the fans go wild in Boston.
Before he was a catch-and-shoot player, Jesus Shuttlesworth was a slasher guard in Seattle Supersonics and Milwaukee Bucks. As he aged, he adapted to the three-point line and became insanely good. One could even say that he got LeBron James his 3rd ring with his game-winning shot against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals. Overall, Ray Allen is a member of the 75 Greatest players in the NBA, was a 10-time All-star, an Olympic medalist, a two-time champion, and one of the best shooters in NBA history.
5. Paul Pierce
Years worn: 1999~2013 (Boston Celtics), 2014 (Brooklyn Nets), 2015 (Washington Wizards), 2016~2017 (Los Angeles Clippers)
“The Truth” will see you free. In this case, The Truth will see you on fire. Paul Pierce a.k.a The Truth may have one of the best nicknames in the NBA. His nickname alone would make him a top 75 player of all time!
But, truthfully, he is a member of the NBA’s 75 Best Players. His best years came during the mid-2000s with the Boston Celtics. Not only is he a great shooter, but he is also a crafty scorer and a clutch one at that. He and the Celtics basketball club were legitimate contenders every year until the gang broke up in 2012. Truthfully (pun intended), Pierce had a great career and a great run with the Boston Celtics.
4. Charles Barkley
Years worn: 1985~1991 (Philadelphia 76ers), 1993~1996 (Phoenix Suns)
The 1984 NBA draft could probably go in the books as the best draft class ever assembled. Featuring the likes of Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, John Stockton, Otis Thorpe, and the Round Mound of Rebound, Charles Barkley.
Standing at only 6 feet and 6 inches, Chuck was a beast in the paint and was a rebounding machine, hence the nickname. Unfortunately, even the great sir Charles fell at the hands of Michael Jordan during the ’90s.
He may have had an MVP and was also selected as an All-Star and in All-NBA teams on 11 occasions, but being a champion always eluded the Hall-of-Famer.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Years worn: 2014~Present (Milwaukee Bucks)
The Greek Freak wore the number 34 in honor of his parents. Right now, he may be ranked third on this list but he is already knocking on the door to becoming the number one, not just on this ranking, but as the Greatest Player of All-Time.
Would you believe he has already achieved so much at only 26 years old? Giannis is a two-time MVP, a champion, a defensive player of the year, and has been selected to multiple all-star selections and all-NBA teams. A few years from now, he might even be the next face of the NBA.
2. Hakeem Olajuwon
Years worn: 1985~2001 (Houston Rockets), 2002 (Toronto Raptors)
After Michael Jordan’s retirement in 1993, Hakeem Olajuwon immediately took over the NBA. While MJ was gone, The Dream ruled the league for two years and secured the Larry O’Brien trophy (1994,1995) with the Houston Rockets. Olajuwon could easily go as one of the most talented and skilled players there is with his impeccable footwork, ability to shoot the ball everywhere on the court, and his underrated defensive traits. His two DPOY awards would be great evidence of that.
Throughout his career, Hakeem was selected in 12 All-Star games, 11 All-NBA teams, and 9 All-NBA defensive teams. His footwork was second to none and he was absolutely the best center in the league during that time. Additionally, he is known to be one of the few to ever intimidate and put a stop to the most dominant center which is also number one on this list.
1. Shaquille O’Neal
Years worn: 1997~2004 (Los Angeles Lakers)
The Diesel, The Big Aristotle, Superman, M.D.E. (Most Dominant Ever), Shaq – These are just some of Shaquille O’Neal’s nicknames he got during his heyday in the NBA. Shaq – a freak of nature – is probably the most dominant player in history and probably the best to ever wear the number 34.
To put things simply, Shaq was so dominant that the NBA had to change some rules with regard to his prowess in the paint. According to ESPN, The Diesel is a top 10 player of All-Time and is right up there as one of the best centers in the NBA alongside Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.