Last week Dikembe Mutombo was honored by the Atlanta Hawks. They rightfully retired his jersey to thank him for his stellar play in Atlanta. As a Nuggets fan, I felt a little bitter as it seemed odd Dikembe hasn't had his number honored in the Pepsi Center (yet!) And that brought up one of my favorite topics -- players that have been snubbed by their teams. This list isn't all-inclusive, but here are five names of players that should have their jerseys retired by their franchises and inexplicably don't.
#5 Dikembe Mutombo
In Atlanta Dikembe put up over 12,000 minutes, earned four All-Star berths and three Defensive Player of the Year awards. He also racked up 73 wins for the team! Of course, he played over 14,000 minutes in Denver, racked up 75 wins, and earned three All-Star berths and a Defensive Player of the Year award. In short, if the Hawks have a case for retiring Dikembe's number, the Nuggets have just as strong of one. The only reason he's this low on the list is the Nuggets have plenty of time to correct this.
#4 and #3 (tie) Shaquille O'Neal and Anfernee Hardaway
The Orlando Magic only have one number retired. It's #6, and it's for the fans, who are the ultimate sixth man. Alright... The Magic had some of the best draft luck in NBA history getting back to back number one picks. And they turned those picks into one of the best duos in NBA history - Shaq and Penny. The reality is both players only gave the Magic four good seasons. Shaq because he left to the Lakers in the late 90s and Penny because of injuries. Regardless, these two made the Magic a force and got them to their first NBA finals. I get that the politics of both players leaving for greener pastures could sour some fans. Still, given how good these two were, I think the Magic should bite the bullet and retire their numbers.
#2 A.C. Green
I won't lie; I was shocked to find out the Lakers hadn't retired A.C.'s number. He was a key part of the Showtime Lakers in the 80s. He played over 20,000 minutes with the franchise and won three titles with them. He put up a ten win season five times. I'm not sure if insulted the wrong person, but regardless, his name belongs in the rafters next to Magic, Kareem, and Worthy.
#1 Horace Grant
Perhaps the most egregious name on the list. Horace Grant was a huge part of the Bulls success. He put up five consecutive ten win seasons. After Michael had retired to play baseball, Horace was still a part of a 55 win squad. I can buy the Bulls being bitter about him leaving to play with Shaq. That said, given how huge a part he was of the first three-peat, his name should be right next to Michael and Scottie's.
That was fun! Any names I left off? Also, I can certainly understand fans/teams being upset at players leaving in the wrong way. That said, my view is always -- if a player is a huge part of your team's history, you should honor them. Seeya next time.