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How to Choose a Basketball Jersey Number

How to Choose a Basketball Jersey Number

There is, perhaps, nothing quite as exiting and exhilarating as choosing your first basketball jersey number.  This number will likely follow you through your junior varsity, varsity, college, and professional leagues, cementing your legacy both on and off the court.

For us older players, simply uttering the jersey numbers of legendary players from the 80’s and 90’s ushers’ memories of their greatest plays and daring drives to the basket. And while choosing a jersey number, particularly in your younger years, may not seem as important as say, choosing a new pair of basketball sneakers, nothing could be further from the truth.

That is why, below, we are going to review how to choose a basketball jersey number that not only will make you proud to wear but also one that will cement your individual and unique legacy.  A basketball jersey number can come to signify greatness, tenacity, hard work, and discipline, so be sure to choose your numbers wisely.

How to Choose a Basketball Jersey Number

Why is Choosing a Jersey Number Important?

While the number on the back of your jersey has no intrinsic value and certainly won’t make you a better player, they are meant to serve as an easily identifiable piece of information.  This information can be used by both your own team, the opposing one, and the referees.

In addition to being used as a form of identification both on and off the court, the jersey number you choose can come to represent you as a brand and as a basketball player.  While the most obvious is the number 23, worn by the greatest basketball player of all-time Michael Jordan, similarly famous jersey numbers include 8 and 24 for Kobe Bryant, 33 for Larry Bird, and 7 for Kevin Durant.

While no basketball player has been as successful as Jordan in creating a brand around their jersey number, the numbers of many of the all-time greats do carry weight and recognition.  Again, just because Jordan did it best doesn’t discount the accolades of the rest.

Lastly, choosing a jersey number is also important as that will be the number that you can have retired and hung above the bleachers long after your playing days are completed.  Reserved for only the greatest and best players on a team, having your number retired and hung after you finish your playing days is a great honor and difficult accomplishment.

Are There Any Rules to Choosing a Basketball Jersey Number?

As a general rule of thumb, no two players on the same team can have the same jersey number.  This is done in an attempt to avoid any confusion between players, particularly for the referees and sideline commentators, analysts, and stat-trackers.

In addition, many leagues, particularly in the high school and college ones, have strict rules regarding specific number combinations and possibilities.  For instance, many basketball leagues across the country will allow the number 0 but won’t allow for 00.

Similarly, many basketball programs will forbid or disallow the use of adult-themed numbers on their jerseys.  Furthermore, you will not be able to choose a jersey number which has been retired for that particular team or organization.  Those numbers have been retired as a means to honor the original player who wore them and are no longer available. 

And lastly, for many college basketball programs, jersey numbers are capped between 00-59.  This is done as many referees will assess a foul call with two hands, which could lead to a mistranslation when going above the number 59.  For example, assessing a foul against a player with the jersey number 63 may come off as 63, but it can be confused for 51, 15, 6, or even 3.

How to Choose a Basketball Jersey Number

Choosing the Perfect Jersey Number

When it comes to choosing a basketball jersey number, you will definitely get a lot of advice and recommendations from family and friends.  While helpful, our recommendation is to ensure that you choose the jersey number you want and the one you will be most happy with.

It is a number that you will represent and the number that will come to represent you, so be sure to mull over it before jumping into any number.

The choice is typically yours, so take the time to choose a number you’ll be proud to wear.  However, below, we’re going to review some suggestions to help make choosing a basketball jersey number just a bit easier.

  • Pick the jersey number of your favorite athlete – perhaps the easiest and best ways to choose a basketball jersey number is to simply pick the same jersey number as your favorite athlete.  While the numbers of Jordan and LeBron are likely to be taken, you can still choose between Kobe Bryant, Steph Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, and many, many more.
  • Pick a number that is important to you – perhaps a birthdate of someone you love and care about, a number that you’ve always felt strongly with, or just a number that you like how it sounds and looks.  Whatever the reason, if there’s a number that you like or find important, feel free to use it as your basketball jersey number.
  • Pick a lucky number – whether it’s a lucky number that is unique to you or one that is commonly associated with luck, going with a lucky number is a great way to spruce up your choice of a basketball jersey number.
  • Pick your birthdate – perhaps one of the simplest ways to pick a basketball jersey number is to simply go with your date of birth.  An easy and practical number to choose from, it will be unique to you every time you wear it.
  • Ask for a random number – while slightly unconventional, many basketball players do not pay attention to their jersey numbers and will take any number given to them.  Whether you don’t care which number you receive or you’re having trouble choosing a number, getting a random number can definitely make the entire process easier.