Tracy McGrady being inducted into the Hall of Fame without having his number retired by any of the seven franchises he played for is just the latest development to shine a light on the quirks of the various jersey retirement practices of NBA teams. Earlier this summer, the Memphis Grizzlies announced plans to make Zach Randolph's No. 50 their first retired number, despite Randolph still being an active player (he signed with the Sacramento Kings as a free agent after playing the previous eight seasons in Memphis).
There are nearly 200 retired numbers across the NBA's 30 franchises, ranging from 00 (Robert Parish for the Boston Celtics and Johnny Moore for the San Antonio Spurs) all the way up to 1,223 (Jerry Sloan's coaching win total with the Utah Jazz). There are also a handful of number-less banners hanging around the league, honoring owners, coaches, GMs, trainers and broadcasters. But there is no uniform policy for how teams should handle retiring a player's jersey, leading to a wide disparity among NBA teams.
As most fans know, no NBA team has retired as many numbers as the Celtics. When they officially honor Paul Pierce on Feb. 11, the Celtics will have 22 retired numbers -- not counting the "LOSCY" that hangs for Jim Loscutoff and the microphone for Johnny Most (one of eight "microphone" jerseys retired around the NBA). On the flip side, there are two teams (not including the previously mentioned Grizzlies) who have yet to retire a single jersey: the LA Clippers and the Toronto Raptors. The Oklahoma City Thunder also haven't retired a jersey since moving from Seattle, but they haven't reissued any of the SuperSonics' six retired numbers either.
There are four additional teams who've hung only a single jersey -- a group the Grizzlies will join when they officially put Randolph in the rafters. The Charlotte Hornets (Bobby Phills) and Minnesota Timberwolves (Malik Sealy) have jerseys hanging to honor players who died during their playing careers. The New Orleans Pelicans have No. 7 hanging in honor of New Orleans legend Pete Maravich, and the Orlando Magic have retired No. 6 to honor the fans, aka "The Sixth Man."
Orlando isn't the only team that has retired No. 6 for that exact reason -- the Sacramento Kings also raised a banner for the fans. Around the league, No. 6 has been retired six times (the other four all in honor of players who wore it on the court), but it's not close to the most-retired number. No. 32 has been retired by 11 different teams, with seven of those players also being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Though it's one of the most iconic numbers in basketball history, No. 23 has been retired by only six different teams, in honor of five different players. Both the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat retired it for Michael Jordan, even though Jordan never played for the Heat. Jordan is one of 14 people to have a number retired by two different teams (including Sloan, who had his playing No. 4 retired by the Bulls in addition to his coaching wins total in Utah). Two players -- Wilt Chamberlain and Pete Maravich -- have been honored by three different franchises. Jordan could join them should the Washington Wizards ever choose to retire his No. 23, which they haven't issued to another player since he retired in 2003.
In addition to retiring Jordan's number, the Heat have one of the quirkier "retired" numbers hanging in their arena -- though technically it's not retired. The team honored legendary Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino by hanging his No. 13 in their rafters, but have issued it to four different players since the "retirement" ceremony in 2005, most recently Shabazz Napier. Meanwhile, Miami hasn't issued No. 6 to any player since LeBron James returned to Cleveland -- much like the Cavaliers held No. 23 out of circulation during the four years James was in Miami.
For the opposite approach, you only need to look at the Detroit Pistons, who retired the numbers of Chauncey Billups (No. 1), Ben Wallace (No. 3) and Dennis Rodman (No. 10) all while the jerseys were actively being used by another player. Greg Monroe (10) has since moved on to Milwaukee, and Stanley Johnson (3) switched his number, but Reggie Jackson is still using Billups' No. 1, which was immediately issued to Allen Iverson after he was acquired in a trade for Billups in 2008.
The Cavs themselves could have done something similar this summer, if they'd chosen to give Kyrie Irving's No. 2 to Isaiah Thomas, who wore that number in college at Washington. Instead, Thomas will wear No. 3 -- which was one of the 21 numbers unavailable to him in Boston, as it had been retired for Dennis Johnson in 1991.