After 75 years, there’s no doubt that the NBA has created some of the most talented athletes of all time. Every era has its respective superstars who paved the way and inspired future stars. An elite club of NBA players who all wore the same number, 33, is a very formidable group that, if teamed up together, is for sure championship worthy. Below are the 10 best players in NBA history who have ever worn the number 33. Do you think they will fair very well with the best players who wore 34?
10. Stephon Marbury
Years worn: 1999-2001 (New Jersey Nets)
As problematic of a player as Marbury is, we can’t deny the fact that he is one of the best guards in the early 2000s. If you watched him play for the Nets, Wolves, Suns, and Knicks, you would see the perfect embodiment of a streetballer playing in the NBA. A shifty and athletic guard with amazing passing skills.
However, Starbury had an attitude problem and always clashed with his coaches and teammates. By 2010, he was already out of the NBA but continued his career overseas. He played in the Chinese Basketball Association where he became a legend. To this day, Starbury is considered a God in China and is worshipped by his fans there.
9. Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Years worn: 2004-2005 (Portland Trailblazers)
Numbers don’t lie! In his heyday, Reef can score more than 20 points on any given night. In the 2001-2002 season, he was selected in his first All-Star game. It was just a year after playing for the U.S. Men’s National Team in the 2000 Sidney Olympics that won the gold medal.
In a 7-year span (1997-2003), Shareef averaged 23.7 points but his decline began when he was traded to the Blazers in 2003. His career was cut short due to knee injuries. Today, Shareef Abdur-Rahim is the president of the NBA Development League (G-League).
8. Marc Gasol
Years worn: 2009-2019 (Memphis Grizzlies), 2019-2020 (Toronto Raptors).
The Gasol brothers may have been the greatest brothers who have played in the NBA. Aside from future Hall-of-Famer Pau Gasol, Spain can also be proud of Marc Gasol’s achievements.
Marc, a 3x All-star, 1x Defensive Player of the Year, 1x All-NBA, 1x All-Defensive, and 1x NBA Champion surely deserves to receive the credit. Aside from his accolades in the NBA, his resume is even better in Spain. Lest we also forget, Marc Gasol was a member of the Grit-and-Grind Memphis Grizzlies team in the early 2010s that featured Tony Allen, Mike Conley, Zack Randolph, and himself. They are a severely underrated team that takes pride in being the best defensive team in the league. In 2013, the same team of ragtag players reached the Western Conference finals but sadly faced a battle-tested San Antonio Spurs.
7. David Thompson
Years worn: 1976-1982 (Denver Nuggets)
According to Michael Jordan himself, he idolized the high-flying forward, David “Skywalker” Thompson. That alone makes him one of the best ever to play the game.
Standing at only 6’4”, Thompson was a beast with crazy hops just like Julius Erving. He did pave the way for guys like MJ with his play style. Aside from being an excellent dunker, he is also a lights-out shooter. He can either spot up for a jump shot or drive by defenders easily. Today, only a few would remember his greatness, but back in the day, DT was one helluva player. Only if he stayed out of drug addiction, he would have become one of the greatest in the sport. By 1986, he was already being brought to rehab and by the following year, he was imprisoned due to assault.
6. Grant Hill
Years worn: 1995-2000 (Detroit Pistons), 2001-2007 (Orlando Magic), 2008-2012 (Phoenix Suns), 2013 (Los Angeles Clippers)
If only Grant Hill weren’t plagued with injuries, who knows how great he would be. Dubbed the next MJ, Hill was en route to being the face of the NBA after Jordan retires. However, the basketball Gods gave him a bad knee resulting in a decline in his later years.
But, kudos to him, he played 19 seasons in the league despite his injuries! Nobody thought he would last this long in the NBA due to his injuries so it’s amazing to see him play almost two decades in the league. Hill is also one of the biggest “What Ifs” in history.
5. Alonzo Mourning
Years worn: 1993-1995 (Charlotte Hornets), 1995-2002, 2005-2008 (Miami Heat), 2004-2005 (New Jersey Nets)
The 1990s was the decade for the dominance of big men. Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Dikembe Mutombo, and Alonzo Mourning, just to name a few. Mourning constantly led Miami and Charlotte to the playoffs every year when during his prime and even butted heads with the great Michael Jordan in the east.
He even gave his opponents a tough time at the post and in the perimeter. His career was almost over in the early 2000s because of a kidney problem. However, he was able to revive it later and won a championship in Miami with Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal, and Gary Payton in 2006.
4. Patrick Ewing
Years worn: 1986-2000 (New York Knicks, 2001 (Seattle Supersonics)
Even after losing on multiple occasions against Michael Jordan and the Bulls, Patrick Ewing still deserves to be named an All-time great. He and the New York Knicks were a menace in the East after the Detroit Pistons era ended. Ewing was not just a conventional center, he was also deemed one of the bigs who can shoot lights out outside the perimeter during that time.
His game would still translate to points in this generation and may even win some rings unless he faces MJ in another form. Ewing had a great career until 2000 wherein his level of play dwindled. Throughout his career, Ewing was an 11-time All-Star, 7-time All-NBA, and a 3-time All-Defensive team member. Sadly, he never got his hands on the Larry O’Brien trophy and the closest he got to the championship was during the 1999 NBA Finals against a rookie Tim Duncan.
3. Scottie Pippen
Years worn: 1988-1998, 2004 (Chicago Bulls), 1999 (Houston Rockets), 2000-2003 (Portland Trailblazers)
On every other team, Scottie Pippen would shine as an ultimate superstar. As the go-to defensive stopper for the Bulls, it’s safe to say that he deserves more recognition as being a lockdown defender. He was always on the all-defensive team but he never won the Defensive Player of the Year award even though he would lock up the opposing team’s superstars.
Even without MJ, he carried the Bulls to a 55-win season and reached the Conference Semifinals that same year. Do you remember whom he lost to? You guessed it right! It’s Patrick Ewing’s Knicks.
2. Larry Bird
Years worn: 1980-1992 (Boston Celtics)
Larry Bird, alongside Magic Johnson, ran the NBA during the 1980s. Thanks to them, the dying league was revived and people started watching basketball again. Larry Legend was not just known to be an offensive force, but he was also famous for being the best trash-talker in basketball history.
Even though he wasn’t as athletic as Magic, Julius Irving, Dominique Wilkins, and MJ, Bird was still a serious threat whenever the ball falls in his hands. Moreover, he was a 12-time All-Star and was selected to 10 All-NBA teams. Not only that, but he also won 3 championships and 3 MVPs during his time (13 seasons) with the Boston Celtics.
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Years worn: 1970-1975 (Milwaukee Bucks), 1976-1988.(Los Angeles Lakers)
Taking Kareem as number one on this list is a no-brainer. One could argue that Kareem was the best Laker and center of all time. He is even often mentioned when a G.O.A.T. conversation comes up. Further, he also holds the record for most points scored with 38,387.
What makes him so special is that his sky hook was the most unstoppable move until now (though it’s not a very common shot attempt anymore). He even threw hands with the late great Bruce Lee (in the movie at least). Nonetheless, Kareem is the best ever to wear no.33 and it will be like that for a long time.