Candidates to be Honored by an NBA Franchise Next: Western Conference Teams

Candidates to be Honored by an NBA Franchise Next: Western Conference Teams

With news breaking that Charles Barkley will be getting a statue outside of the Philadelphia 76ers’ practice facility breaking this week, one thing has been on my mind and that is “Who else will get a statue? Who else deserves to get their jersey retired?” There are a lot of stars that deserved to be recognized by their former teams and with the Barkley announcement it got me thinking about the possibilities of each team and who’s up next to be immortalized by a franchise in different capacities. Here, we will look at possible candidates for both possibly getting their jersey retired, as well as candidates for statues and how high their chances are. In this article, we focus on the Western Conference teams. 

*Note that the Charlotte Hornets franchise is not covered due to complications revolving around the fact that it can be argued that their lineage revolves around the Charlotte Bobcats rather then the Hornets. This further complicates things when considering the New Orleans Pelicans who I would argue carry the actual lineage of the former Charlotte Hornets. Therefore, both teams are omitted in this article.*

Denver Nuggets

Denver is like the Atlanta of the Western Conference. Consistent in the playoffs, but no championships (Atlanta won one). They’ve had a lot of stars though.

Candidates for Jersey Retirement: Carmelo Anthony, Nikola Jokic, Marcus Camby, Jamal Murray, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Gary Harris

Melo with the Nuggets is the legend that many fans like to remember. He’s another one that left the franchise in turmoil once he left, but I’d like to think that Denver has move passed it now that Melo is closer to retirement then ever. Unfortunately, I don’t know if he’ll get his jersey retired since they let Nikola Jokic wear his number “15”. Unless, they retire Melo’s New York number “7” for no reason, then I think he might be forgotten, which is incredibly unfair. Camby was a big part of Melo’s teams in the 2000s, but if Melo doesn’t get his retired then Camby shouldn’t. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was fun to watch in the 90s, but not really enough to be honored. It remains to be seen if this new era of Nuggets basketball led by Jokic, Murray, and Harris will lead to being honored by the Nuggets franchise forever, but it’s way too early to tell.

Candidates for Statues: Dan Issel, Alex English, Nikola Jokic

Issel and English really represented everything about the Denver franchise. Issel was the franchise’s first superstar. They both have arguments. Jokic may have more of an argument in the following years. If Wilkins got one in Atlanta though, I could definitely see Issel getting one.

Minnesota Timberwolves 

Not a lot to boast about in Minnesota’s history but they do have some bright spots.

Candidates for Jersey Retirement: Kevin Garnett, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins

Garnett will get his retired. That’s not even a question. This may be too early, but Towns has already solidified himself as one of the best centers in the game. He will get his retired no matter what happens in the future. Wiggins is breaking franchise records all over the place too. Though he has underwhelmed thus far, he’s still the fourth best player in franchise history (sadly). Love may not have stayed long enough, so unless he comes back before the end of his career, I don’t see him getting the honor. Rubio was a fan favorite and the best point guard in Timberwolves history. He might have a better shot than Love.

Candidates for Statues: Kevin Garnett

He’s the only person that deserves it, and I’m positive he will get it.

Oklahoma City Thunder

For the record, if we count the Seattle Supersonics as part of the Thunder’s lineage, then Dennis Johnson, Gary Payton, Ray Allen, Shawn Kemp, and Rashard Lewis all should be considered with Payton, Allen, and Kemp having the best shot.

Candidates for Jersey Retirement: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka

I think all three get their jersey retired. It’s not even a question.

Candidates for Statues: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook

It would take a while but both really should. Plus, can you imagine how cool a Westbrook statue would look with him yelling?

Portland Trail Blazers

There’s so many great players in Portland’s history.

Candidates for Jersey Retirement: Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, C.J. McCollum, Arvydas Sabonis, Rasheed Wallace, Brandon Roy

Lillard and Aldridge are guarantees. If McCollum keeps up his pace and stays with the team, he will be a shoe-in as well. Sabonis only played with Portland for a short while but was the most important piece to their late 90s early 2000s teams, and is an absolute legend in his own right. This should have already happened. Injuries ended Brandon Roy’s chance just like what happened to Allan Houston in New York. Rasheed was at his best with Portland but I don’t think the front office likes to remind fans about the “Jail Blazers” lineup of the early 2000s, even though it was one of my all time favorite teams.

Candidates for Statues: Bill Walton, Clyde Drexler, Damian Lillard

All three deserve a statue, and though Lillard hasn’t reached Drexler’s or Walton’s playoff success yet, he will be one of the most loved stars in the franchise’s history when it’s all said and done. Walton brought them their only title though, so if we were to choose, I could see Walton getting one first.

Bill Walton was able to bring Portland its first and only NBA Championship in 1977.
Featured Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Utah Jazz

The Jazz have never won a championship so you have to really take an in-depth look at the stars that the Jazz have had over the years.

Candidates for Jersey Retirement: Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer. Gordon Hayward, Andrei Kirilenko, Donovan Mitchell, Rody Gobert, Joe Ingles

Williams and Boozer were the Stockton/Malone of the mid 2000s for the Jazz. Unfortunately, they never got the pieces around them to move further in the playoffs and they ended up both leaving early, so they don’t have a realistic shot. Hayward has a chance as the front office molded and developed him for years until he finally became an All-Star. Then he left. If he does come back however, he might have a shot. After his stint with the Celtics, the Jazz might be the only franchise willing to take him sadly.

Kirilenko and Joe Ingles are huge fan favorites within the Jazz organization. Plus, no one will ever wear the “47” number again because no one will have a cooler nickname then AK47. If this current Jazz team continues to get better and better, Ingles and obviously Mitchell and Gobert, all have a chance at getting their jerseys retired.

Candidates for Statues: Pete Maravich

I mean they already got statues of Stockton and Malone, so the only one who really deserves one now is Maravich.

Golden State Warriors

Keep in mind that they have already announced that they will retire the jerseys of Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala

Candidates for Jersey Retirement: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green

It’s not even a question. All three will have their jerseys retired.

Candidates for Statues: Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry, Stephen Curry, Chris Mullin

All are legends within the Warriors franchise. Since Chamberlain already has one in Philly, a Rick Barry statue shooting his signature “granny shot” free throw would be perfect. Curry will definitely get one once he retires. Under his leadership, this team has been arguably some of the best of all time. Mullin have the worst chance out of the four.

Rick Barry was one of the best free throw shooters of all time despite using the “granny shot” form.
Featured Photo Credit:

Los Angeles Clippers

There has not been a lot of success within the Clippers franchise. That is why they have zero numbers retired up until this point.

Candidates for Jersey Retirement: Bob McAdoo, Elton Brand, Norm Nixon, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul, World B. Free, Jamal Crawford

Bob McAdoo is a former MVP. He should’ve had his retired a long time ago. Griffin, Jordan, and Paul all have a shot as they represent the one point where the Clippers were one of the most consistently good teams in the league. Brand was the franchise in the early 2000s but I don’t think he was there long enough to be considered. Free and Nixon didn’t have enough success. Crawford has a great chance as a fan favorite though. We’ll have to see how good the Kawhi/Paul George teams are to see if they put themselves in the conversation too.

Candidates for Statues: Bob McAdoo, Blake Griffin

Honestly, they don’t have enough success to really warrant a statue but if I were to choose, it’d be between these two. 

Los Angeles Lakers

They’ve done a great job already at honoring their players.

Candidates for Jersey Retirement: Pau Gasol

Gasol might be the only person considered. Though I consider him an all time Grizzly, he’ll probably get his number retired in LA.

Candidates for Statues: Kobe Bryant

He’ll get one. Don’t worry.

Phoenix Suns

Phoenix is another franchise that is great at honoring former players.

Candidates for Jersey Retirement: Amar’e Stoudemire, Devin Booker

Stoudemire deserves it. I’m surprised they said no to him when he wanted to retire there. If Booker stays with the Suns for awhile and achieves some success, he’ll definitely be in the conversation, along with Deandre Ayton.

Candidates for Statues: Steve Nash, Charles Barkely, Paul Westphal

Westphal brought the Suns to the Finals as a player and a coach. He really deserves to be recognized. Talent-wise, there are no players better in Suns history then Nash and Barkley. If I had to pick one, Nash would be the go-to choice though.

Sacramento Kings

They’ll be a lot more jersey retirements in the future.

Candidates for Jersey Retirement: Mike Bibby, DeMarcus Cousins, Doug Christie, De’Aaron Fox

Divac, Stojakovic, and Webber all have their jerseys retired so why not Bibby? His steady point guard play and underrated performances are what turned the Kings into a powerhouse. If you do retire Bibby’s jersey though, Christie might have to be considered too since he would be the only one out of that early 2000s starting lineup to not have their jersey retired. Cousins was on top when the franchise was going nowhere. When you consider all of his current injuries, we might have seen the best of Cousins on the Kings. Mitch Richmond was the top guy for years when the Kings were terrible so this could help Cousins’ chance. Also, if the Kings continue to get better and better, there long term star De’Aaron Fox might have a shot five to ten years down the road.

Candidates for Statues: Chris Webber, Oscar Robertson, Mitch Richmond

Chris Webber is Sacramento. If anyone gets a statue, it’ll be him.

Chris Webber captained the best Kings team in franchise history.
Featured Photo Credit:

Dallas Mavericks

Dallas has a history of signing veteran free agents to complete their teams on a short term basis. With that, there are very few players that deserve to get their jersey retired for the Mavericks franchise.

Candidates for Jersey Retirement: Dirk Nowitzki, Mark Aguirre, Michael Finley, Jason Terry, Luka Doncic

Dirk will get his retired this year probably. Aguirre was a locker room issue with loads of talent in the 80s, so it may take him awhile if he does get his jersey retired. Michael Finley was a solid player for years and along with Jason Terry were fan favorites that were on the team for awhile. They also were big parts to many Dirk-led teams of the 2000s so they have a real solid chance. It’s too early to say for Luka Doncic, but Mark Cuban has made it clear that Luka is the guy now. We know how Cuban takes care of his guys.

Candidates for Statues: Dirk Nowitzki

See the statement about Chris Webber before this? Apply that here.

Houston Rockets

Houston has done a solid job thus far in honoring the people that deserve it (though Drexler was a bit of a stretch).

Candidates for Jersey Retirement: James Harden, Tracy McGrady, Steve Francis, Ralph Sampson

Harden could literally never play another game and would get his jersey retired by Houston still. Love him or hate him, it’s happening. McGrady is tough as he represents really just one big missed opportunity. He has more of a shot then Steve Francis though, who was only there for a short while. Sampson’s injuries ruined his chance as well. 

Candidates for Statues: Yao Ming, James Harden

They already have Hakeem’s statue so a Yao Ming one would be perfect, representing the dominance of the center position in Houston. Eventually, Harden will get one too.

Memphis Grizzlies

As you can see, these expansion teams haven’t had too much success. Each franchise has an era where they do well though. In Grizzlies history, it was the “Grit N’ Grind” era. Speaking of that, the franchise has already announced that they will retire the jerseys of Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Zack Randolph, and Tony Allen. 

Candidates for Jersey Retirement: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Pau Gasol, Rudy Gay

Shareef was the Grizzlies’ first star but that didn’t translate to much success. Pau however, brought the team into the playoffs and was their go-to guy until he was traded for what turned out to be his brother Marc. Pau might have a shot, but he’ll probably be retired by the Lakers. Gay was an exciting star for a few years but I don’t think he did enough to get honored. It remains to be seen what Jaren Jackson, Jr. and Ja Morant will be able to bring to the Grizzlies franchise.

Candidates for Statues: Marc Gasol, Mike Conley

This is another franchise that I don’t think they did enough to really warrant a statue but if anyone gets one, it’ll have to be Gasol, Conley, or both.

San Antonio Spurs

They already announced they will retire Tony Parker’s number.

Candidates for Jersey Retirement: Gregg Popovich, Kawhi Leonard

Franchises retire coaches “jerseys” all the time, so with that, Popovich will 100% get his “jersey” retired. It will take awhile for fans to forget how Kawhi left the Spurs, but he was still one of the best players in franchise history. It remains to be seen what he does with the Clippers to see what he will be remembered as once his career is over.

Candidates for Statues: David Robinson, Tim Duncan, George Gervin

There should honestly be a “Twin Tower” statue with both Robinson and Duncan outside the AT&T Center. It would be well deserved. Gervin has a shot too as individually, he was one of the best scorers not only in Spurs history, but NBA history too.

Are we looking at a future statue in San Antonio?

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