Joining #33

As mentioned in the diaries, the Bulls have announced they will be retiring Scottie Pippen's #33 jersey at halftime of the Dec 9. game against the Lakers. It's been speculated that this game was chosen since another former Bull to have that honor, Phil Jackson, will be there with his Laker squad.

No need to go through Pip's credentials, but this announcement has me curious to what other Bulls may see their numbers retired at United Center. Pippen will be joining Jackson, Michael Jordan, Jerry Sloan, Bob Love, and Jerry Krause in that regard.

Harlan Schreiber over at HoopsAnalyst recently went through retired numbers throughout the league, categorizing them as follows:

A) A-List Star
B) The Very Goods
C) Longtimers/Mainstays
D) Championship Role Players
E) Tragedy

At the end of the article, Harlan lists Norm Van Lier, Artis Gilmore, Chet Walker, and Scottie Pippen as the most glaring omissions. Obviously we can scratch Pippen off that list, but what about the others? And how about more players from the championship era?

Here are those candidates and some others that come to mind: (and I apologize for the shoddy formatting, I'm learning)

                       Years              Games
Artis Gilmore   77-'81, '88      482
Chet Walker    70-'75             474
Norm Van Lier 72-'78            535
Horace Grant    88-'94           546
Bill Cartwright   89-'94           397
John Paxson     86-'94            645
Dennis Rodman 96-'98           199
Toni Kukoc      94-'00            436
 

I'm no expert on 70s NBA basketball, but I'll assume that if those guys were to get their numbers inducted you'd think it would've been done already. Gilmore is probably the best of the lot, but achieved most of his stardom with the ABA before becoming a 3-time all star as a Bull. Norm Van Lier also had 3 appearances while Chet Walker was a 4-time all-star with the team. If they went in it'd be under Harlan's 'mainstays' group, but with that 70s era (lost in the Western conference finals in '74 and '75) already represented in the rafters with Love and Sloan, I don't see it happening for these guys.

That leaves the 'championship role players'.

I guess you could add Steve Kerr, Ron Harper, and even BJ Armstrong(if you were really reaching) to the ones mentioned above,  and noone besides Jordan and Pippen were a part of more than 3 Bulls championships, so possible extra credit can't be found that way.

Over at Basketball-Reference.com, there is a calculation for Win Shares (named after the method developed by Bill James for baseball). They're only compiled for 1978 and beyond, so here are how these role players stack up with eachother in terms of their Win Shares with the Bulls:


Win Shares
Horace Grant     181
Toni Kukoc        114
John Paxson       105
Dennis Rodman   55
Bill Cartwright     52
 

Obviously this gives an advantage to those who have played for the Bulls longer, but since this is a career-rewarding achievement, I think that's fair. This disqualifies Rodman in my book.

Rewarding both his longevity and his production, I say that Horace Grant deserves to have his #54 retired. As the 3rd best player on the first 3-peat, and 2nd best on the near-miss '94 squad, Horace deserves more of a legacy than to be grouped with the others as simply a championship role player. Especially after reading 'The Jordan Rules', it's easy to appreciate Horace a major contributor to the rise of the dynasty. And if the 70s era gets two players honored, the 90s should have at least three.

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