Hoop Diary’s new feature “Jersey Countdown” continues as we investigate the greatest players to wear each jersey number over the course of NBA history. The lockout is in full effect unfortunately so stay tuned to Hoop Diary for a reprieve and as always, feel free to share your thoughts via our comments section.
Here comes number 54!
Being part of a three-time NBA Champion team will always help in a competition like this but Horace Grant has most certainly earned his spot. A physical power forward with a reliable jump shot and great rebounding ability, Grant plied his trade being the dependable, blue collar guy in Chicago’s heyday. While Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were always the centre of attention for the Bulls, Grant was arguably the most consistent.
Selected 10th overall by Chicago in the 1987 NBA Draft, Horace stepped into a franchise that was on the rise. Having secured the rights to Scottie Pippen via a trade with Seattle on the same day, the Bulls had secured a tandem that would be a catalyst to their future success working with young star Michael Jordan.
Horace Grant was never flashy but was extremely dependable and easily recognized on court due to his unique goggles and high energy play. Working within the Bulls’ triangle offense, Grant was rarely called on to score but still managed to accumulate points mainly through offensive rebounding opportunities. Excelling at his role helped the Chicago Bulls capture three straight titles from 1991-93.
1994 was a good year for Grant as he averaged career-highs in points, rebounds and assists, was selected to his first and only All-Star team and hit the only three-pointer of his career. After Jordan’s retirement, the All-Star selection and a heart-breaking loss to the New York Knicks in the ’94 Playoffs, Grant left Chicago to team up with young stars Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee Hardaway in Orlando. Providing a strong veteran presence to an already talented group, Grant helped the Magic reach the NBA Finals in his first season in Florida.
While that Orlando team ended up on the receiving end of a Finals sweep, Grant got another chance at a Championship in 2001 when he joined the Los Angeles Lakers. While playing a role off the bench, Grant got his fourth Championship ring, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers in five games.
Horace Grant played for the Chicago Bulls, Seattle Supersonics, Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers over his 17 year career.
With career stats of 11.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg and nearly 51% from the field, Horace Grant is Hoop Diary’s clear choice for all-time greatest number 54.
Notable mentions: Ed Pinckney, Rodney Rogers, Popeye Jones and Charles “Stopped again” Smith.