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The Cava-List: Numbers Game


Playing the Numbers

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The Cavaliers downtown mini-bubble wrapped up last week and the team (along with Cavs.com) will be focusing on the 2020 NBA Draft in the coming weeks leading up to November 18.

While we gear up for the big night – with the Wine & Gold holding the No. 5 overall pick for the second straight season – here’s a little Cava-List to get you through the rest of the week before the Browns and Colts square off on Sunday.

Normally, I don’t like to write the words “me” or “I” when publishing as Joe Gabriele on the website, but today we’re going to examine the franchise’s uniform number history, and this story definitely affects which way it’s going to go. Enough time has passed.

I have screwed up many times over my 18 seasons with the Cavaliers. This is one of them.

In 2013, I decided to write a feature – similar to today’s Cava-List – focused on uniform numbers from the past. My mistake was choosing to select “the best” player to ever wear every number.

Getting to No. 22 was easy.

Unsure as to what the organization’s attitude was towards LeBron James – then still with the Miami Heat after an … uh … interesting departure in 2010 – I chose Tyron Corbin as the greatest No. 23 in team history.

The piece wasn’t up an hour on Cavs.com before the local and national media had pounced on us. Even Dwyane Wade weighed in on social media.

Luckily, Cavs.com is on the Internet and no one had to scream: “Stop the presses!” Early that evening, I quickly swapped Tyron Corbin – who played 86 solid outings for the Cavs back in the mid-to-late-80s – for King James, re-published the list, and everything was everything.

To me, the greatest irony of the story was that I was actually one of LeBron’s biggest defenders when he left. I told anyone who’d listen that it was as if he was going to college and would eventually return.

It all worked out in the end. I still have my job and me and Numeral 23 are cool. I hope he wins his fourth ring over the next week or so.

Please forgive the long-winded intro.

Today’s Cava-List will look at some uniform number odds and ends over the history of the franchise – from No. 0 (Kevin Love) to No. 99 (Jae Crowder). And I’ll do my best to avoid ranking the guys, except to say – with respect to John Morton, Carl Thomas, Derek Anderson, Rod Higgins, Gary Freeman, Mike Bratz, Bruce Flowers, Rowland Garrett and yes, Tyron Corbin – that LeBron James was the best Cavalier to ever wear uniform No. 23.

Glad to get that off my chest …


One and Only

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Of course, there are seven Cavs uniform numbers that’ll never be worn again: 42 – Nate Thurmond, 7 – Bingo Smith, 34 – Austin Carr, 22 – Larry Nance, 43 – Brad Daugherty, 25 – Mark Price, and 11 – Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

But only one of those numbers is the only one that was ever worn and ever will be. That belongs to Bingo Smith – who chose No. 7 when he arrived in the 1970 expansion draft and donned it for 10 memorable seasons in Cleveland.

0 - Lari Ketner, Jeff McInnis, C .J . Miles, Kevin Love

00 - Milos Babic, Benoit Benjamin, Darnell Jackson, Chris Andersen

1 - Ken Higgs, Darnell Valentine, Terrell Brandon, Wesley Person, Carlos Boozer, Stephen Graham, Daniel Gibson, Jarrett Jack, James Jones, Derrick Rose, Rodney Hood, Nik Stauskas

2 - Mo Howard, Reggie Williams, Mike Woodson, Reggie Geary, Scott Brooks, Mark Bryant, Jim Jackson, Dajuan Wagner, Flip Murray, Mo Williams, Kyrie Irving, Collin Sexton

3 - Elmore Smith, Ennis Whatley, Eddie Johnson, Craig Ehlo, Bob Sura, Jeff Trepagnier, Tierre Brown, J .R . Bremer, Sasha Pavlovic, Sebastian Telfair, Ramon Sessions, Dion Waiters, Kendrick Perkins, Mike Dunleavy, Derrick Williams, Isaiah Thomas, George Hill, Patrick McCaw, Kobi Simmons, Cameron Payne, Marquese Chriss

4 - Campy Russell, Ron Harper, Steve Kerr, Sedric Toney, Harold Miner, Shawn Kemp, Chris Mihm, Tony Battie, David Wesley, Ben Wallace, Antawn Jamison, Luke Walton, Iman Shumpert, Jaron Blossomgame

5 - Bobby Lewis, Jimmy Cleamons, Mike Evans, John Bagley, Steve Kerr, Steve Colter, Earl Boykins, Kedrick Brown, Coby Karl, Ryan Hollins, Kevin Jones, Will Cherry, J .R . Smith


Over-Under

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Two Cavaliers have worn both uniform Nos. 8 and 9, both are all-time fan favorites and were actually teammates on the 2016 squad that won the World Championship.

Matthew Dellavedova – who wore No. 18 upon his return to Cleveland in 2018 – wore No. 8 (and No. 9) in 2014, ’15 and ’16. Channing Frye, traded to the Cavs in 2016, wore No. 9 when he arrived in 2016 and again upon his return in 2019, but donned No. 8 in 2017-18.

6 - Larry Nance, Mitchell Butler, Shannon Brown, Jerome Moiso, Manny Harris, Ben Uzoh, Earl Clark, Andrew Bogut

7 - Bingo Smith

8 - Scott Wedman, Lonnie Shelton, Tim Kempton, Brian Skinner, Mateen Cleaves, Tarence Kinsey, Christian Eyenga, Jeremy Pargo, Matthew Dellavedova, Channing Frye, Jordan Clarkson

9 - Randy Smith, Mickey Dillard, Larry Kenon, Tony Campbell, Dan Majerle, Litterial Green, Cedric Jackson, Semih Erden, Matthew Dellavedova, Luol Deng, Jared Cunningham, Channing Frye, Larry Sanders, Dwyane Wade

10 - Joe Cooke, Dick Snyder, Walt Frazier, Ron Brewer, Stewart Granger, Robert Smith, Butch Graves, John Battle, Ryan Stack, Anthony Johnson, Milt Palacio, Wally Szczerbiak, Sergey Karasev, John Holland, Alec Burks

11 - John Warren, Walt Frazier, Willie Smith, Cliff Robinson, Kevin Johnson, Mike Sanders, Terrell Brandon, John Crotty, Zydrunas Ilgauskas

12 - Kevin Williams, Kevin Henderson, Gerald Madkins, Elmer Bennett, Brevin Knight, Bimbo Coles, Lucious Harris, Kevin Ollie, Billy Thomas, Joey Graham, D .J . Kennedy, Joe Harris, Jordan McRae, David Nwaba

13 - James Silas, John Amaechi, Donny Marshall, Michael Stewart, Delonte West, Tristan Thompson

14 - Foots Walker, Lowes Moore, Dirk Minniefield, Bobby Phills, Mark Hendrickson, Ira Newble, Danny Green, Lester Hudson, Shaun Livingston, Henry Sims, Sasha Kaun, DeAndre Liggins

15 - Dave Sorenson, Cornell Warner, Chuckie Williams, Butch Lee, Roger Phegley, Keith Herron, Matt Harpring, Cedric Simmons, Jamario Moon, Donald Sloan, Marreese Speights, Anthony Bennett, London Perrantes, Sam Dekker


League of His Own

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Kyle Korver is the only Cavalier in team history to wear uniform No. 26, which is not that noteworthy. But is he the greatest No. 26 in NBA history? (I know! I said I’d avoid ranking guys.)

The only No. 26 in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame is Harry E. "Buddy" Jeannette, who won five championships in three different leagues – the NBL, ABL and the BAA – in the 1940s.

In between Buddy Jeannette and Kyle Korver – who ranks 4th on the NBA’s all-time three-pointers list (2,450) – there are a lot of Jud Buchelers and Lester Hudsons, but no one in the former Cavalier sharpshooter’s orbit.

The only question from there becomes – ranked against Wade Boggs and Rod Woodson – if he’s the greatest 26 in sports history.

16 - Johnny Davis, Gary Alexander, Cedi Osman

17 - Bobby Washington, Michael Hawkins, Smush Parker, Anderson Varejao

18 - McCoy McLemore, Charlie Davis, John Williams, Kornel David, Anthony Parker, Mike Miller, Lenny Wilkens, Matthew Dellavedova

19 - Damon Jones

20 - Campy Russell, Chad Kinch, Geoff Huston, Scooter McCray, Winston Bennett, Greg Graham, Johnny Newman, Larry Robinson, Bryant Stith, Eric Snow, Chris Quinn, Timofey Mozgov, Kay Felder, Brandon Knight

21 - Johnny Egan, Butch Beard, Campy Russell, Mack Calvin, Roger Phegley, World B . Free, Gerald Wilkins, Antonio Lang, Trajan Langdon, Daniel Gibson, Darius Miles, J .J . Hickson, Wayne Ellington, Mychel Thompson, Andrew Bynum, A .J . Price, Kendrick Perkins, Jalen Jones

22 - Larry Nance, Cliff Anderson, Austin Carr, Jim Chones, Carl Nicks, Mike Wilson, Johnny Newman, Chris Dudley, Larry Nance Jr.


Big Digits

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Drew Gooden – who else? – was the first Cavalier to break the antiquated No. 55 barrier with the Cavaliers – choosing No. 90 after being dealt from Orlando (where he wore No. 0) in 2004.

Since then, the Cavaliers have had three players who’ve worn wide receiver numbers: Jose Calderon (No. 81 in 2017-18), Baron Davis (No. 85 in 2009-10) and Lou Amundson (No. 89 in 2014-15).

Jae Crowder sported No. 99 in 2017-18, placing the lowest (Kevin Love, No. 0) and highest (Crowder) on the same team.

23 - Gary Freeman, Rowland Garrett, Mike Bratz, Bruce Flowers, Tyrone Corbin, John Morton, Rod Higgins, Carl Thomas, Derek Anderson, LeBron James

24 - Fred Foster, John Lambert, Kevin Restani, Keith Lee, Chris Dudley, Gerald Paddio, Jimmy Oliver, Chris Mills, Andre Miller, Jason Kapono, Donyell Marshall, Trey Johnson, Samardo Samuels, Shane Edwards, Scotty Hopson, Richard Jefferson, Larry Nance Jr.

25 - Mark Price, Gary Brokaw, Terry Furlow, Dave Robisch, Darren Tillis, Ron Anderson, Ben McDonald

26 - Kyle Korver

27 - Tony Dumas, Dwayne Jones

29 - Mike Wilks

30 - Larry Mikan, Jackie Ridgle, Ed Jordan, Mike Mitchell, David Magley, Dell Curry, Tree Rollins, Jerome Lane, Greg Dreiling, Darryl Johnson, Carl Thomas, Lamond Murray, Jon Leuer, Carrick Felix, Dahntay Jones

31 - Richard Washington, Randolph Keys, Fred Roberts, J .R . Reid, Ricky Davis, Zendon Hamilton, Scot Pollard, Jawad Williams, Seth Curry, Shawn Marion, Deron Williams

32 - John Warren, John Johnson, Kenny Carr, Roy Hinson, Johnny Rogers, Henry James, Tyrone Hill, Pete Chilcutt, Chris Gatling, Jelani McCoy, Robert Traylor, Larry Hughes, Joe Smith, Luke Walton, Spencer Hawes, Jeff Green, Deng Adel

33 - Bill Willoughby, Bobby Wilkerson, Paul Thompson, Kannard Johnson, Derrick Chievous, Mike Sanders, Donny Marshall, Jumaine Jones, Luke Jackson, Devin Brown, Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Gee, Brendan Haywood

34 - Austin Carr


Change of Heart

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Some high-profile Cavaliers have switched uniform number midstream.

Walt Frazier wore both No. 11 and No. 10. Terrell Brandon wore No. 1 and No. 11. Booby Gibson wore No. 1 and No. 21. Even all-time greats whose numbers are now immortalized didn’t always keep the same digits. Austin Carr wore No. 22 as a rookie before switching to No. 34, now retired for Mr. Cavalier. Larry Nance – the original – wore No. 6 before moving to No. 22; his son donned No. 24 after being traded from the Lakers, but was given his father’s permission to dust off No. 22.

Campy Russell has had three different uniform numbers – wearing No. 20 through his first four years in Cleveland, No. 21 in his last two and No. 4 when he made a brief return as a player in 1984-55.

35 - Rick Roberson, Jimmy Cleamons, Don Ford, Phil Hubbard, Danny Ferry, Clarence Weatherspoon, Demetris Nichols

36 - Paul Thompson, Omri Casspi

40 - Gary Suiter, Greg Howard, Barry Clemens, Harry Davis, Walter Jordan, James Edwards, Joe Courtney, Tyler Zeller, Edy Tavares

41 - Eric Fernsten, Bill Laimbeer, Steve Hayes, Geff Crompton, Mark West, Etdrick Bohannon, Bruno Sundov, Lance Allred, Ante Zizic

42 - Nate Thurmond, Dwight Davis

43 - Brad Daugherty, Earl Tatum

44 - Walt Wesley, Luke Witte, Kim Hughes, Reggie Johnson, Paul Mokeski, Edgar Jones, Michael Cage, Shawnelle Scott, Corie Blount, Jiri Welsch, Alan Henderson, Leon Powe, Luke Harangody

45 - Luther Rackley, Bob Rule, Jeff Cook, Cedric Henderson, Kaniel Dickens, A .J . Bramlett

47 - Scott Williams, Len Chappell

50 - Steve Patterson, Bill Robinzine, Ben Poquette, Bimbo Coles, Arinze Onuaku, Michael Doleac

51 - Jim Brewer


Trendsetters

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The most popular Cavaliers uniform number over the years – most recently worn by Andre Drummond this past season – is No. 3, which has now been worn by 22 different players.

And of course, there are numbers that only one player in franchise history has worn. Aside from the football numbers discussed previously only one player has worn uniform No. 7 (Bingo Smith), No. 19 (Damon Jones), No. 26 (Kyle Korver), No. 29 (Mike Wilks), No. 34 (Austin Carr), No. 51 (Jim Brewer) and No. 53 (Mel Turpin).

In terms of numbers below 55, no Cavalier has ever worn uniform Nos. 28, 37, 38, 39, 46, 48 or 49.

52 - Jerome Whitehead, Bill Laimbeer, Melvin Bennett, Brad Branson, Sam Lacey, Chucky Brown, Vitaly Potapenko, DeSagana Diop, Mo Williams, Alex Kirk

53 - Melvin Turpin

54 - Kent Benson, Gary Voce, Jay Guidinger, Robert Traylor, Lee Nailon, John Garris

55 - Andrew DeClercq, Eric Williams, Lorenzen Wright

81 - Jose Calderon

85 - Baron Davis

89 - Lou Amundson

90 - Drew Gooden

99 - Jae Crowder

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