The greatest NBA player to wear every number? Larry Bird isn't 33?

Mitchell & Ness ranked the best basketball players by jersey numbers recently, and Larry Bird fans are not happy that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar got the nod over our Celtic hero.

So Larry Bird isn't the best "33" in NBA history? You're telling me that one-trick pony and his skyhook is better than the most complete player of all time? Larry Bird is as synonymous with number 33 as Michael Jordan and his 23, and 33 has many more challengers. If you search google images, guess who's jersey comes up before Kareem's? Larry freaking Bird's.

I'm not convinced Larry couldn't have improved on Kareem's skyhook if he needed to, but he didn't because he had more options, and was willing to take and make every shot in the book. I'm also not convinced Bird wouldn't have brought more to the movie "Airplane" than the big man. Kareem's got LB beat in yoga, height, and goggle fashion, and that's about it. Larry could make any shot or any pass, and knew where every player on the court was at all times, and often where they were going.

Kareem missed Game 6 of the NBA Finals in 1980 and some bum rookie point guard nicknamed "Magic" stepped in and sealed the championship for the Lakers. If Larry missed a Finals game as a Celtic our team would never have stood a chance (unless he was allowed to coach the team to explain on a master level of how to overcome his absence). We also know that no injury could have forced Larry Bird to miss a Finals game.

Now that I got that out of my system, picking which player is better is splitting hairs. Bird and Kareem are on many NBA fan's top 5 players of all time list, and certainly everyone's top 10 at the minimum. Bird's legacy takes a hit in the same place where Kareem's gets its biggest boost, and that's longevity. Also comparing centers to any other position is difficult since there are such different roles and expectations to consider.

But that talk is boring. It comes down to what you want. The perfector of the skyhook ( a go to move that if it's going is unstoppable), or the guy who made everyone on the floor better and did everything you could ask for on a basketball court. I'm going to shock the world and go Larry on this one. That's right, I've got the stones to go against the NBA expertise of a clothing company. What do you think?

Photo Credit 1: Dick Raphael/Getty Images
Photo Credit 2:

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