What’s in the Number?
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Michael Jordan did not just happen upon number 23, oh no, he chose it to honor a hero. Larry Jordan, Michael’s older brother, was one of MJ’s teachers and he wished to be half the man that Larry was. On the court, Larry was 45. Michael halved that and rounded up: 23. He was to be half the man (if not much more) and half the number.
In contrast to the unleashing of NBA jerseys, when the Cleveland boys’ basketball jerseys are bestowed, it is anything but a glorious moment. The players each pick their fate out of a selection of Cleveland’s finest tunics in the dingy locker room. However, even in the musty space there is still some spirit around the number choosing ceremony.
Junior Josh Sanders takes 33. “I was originally gonna be 25 but it was taken last year,” he said. “I went with 33, that’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s number which is a little joke I have because of my hook shot.” Abdul- Jabbar is an NBA alum, the greatest scorer of all time, and fabled by his very own “skyhook,” a shot he hooked from the distance, arcing into the net. Radio announcer Eddie Doucette claimed “that hook was so high that it was coming out of the sky.”
Gendrit Hoxha, Cleveland senior, plays with three on his back. “I wanted 10 because 10 is Lionel Messi’s number and I like Messi but now I’m three…’cause I shoot three’s,” he declared. Number three was in contention on the team. Senior Conor Bergin came late on jersey day failing to swipe the wanted jersey. His tardiness had him settle for 13, an honorable number in light of his dad’s birthday. “Thirteen works out [also]“because I usually shoot free throws,” he voiced. “So three and one. Three for the threes and one for the free throws.”
Twenty-three landed in the hands of Junior Sethon Moore his first year as a Warrior. He said, “It has a connection for me because I played as 23 as a freshman and so it lives on.” In years past numbers four and 44 have claimed his back making him, ‘Moore 4’, a name he shares with his father from his old man’s college basketball days.
Kobe Bryant’s two-time NBA championship jersey number 24 was greatly desired but not at hand in Cleveland’s selections. Junior Mo Salah wears five but dreams of 24. He explained, “I’d choose that number for a reason, just to be like Kobe.”
Music meets net as 21 savage and senior Zach Notti come together on the court. “Last year I got 21 and I was like ok, 21’s a pretty sick number. It is kinda coincidental in igniting [he and 21 savage].”
“Number one on the court, number one in your heart.” This is the anthem of sophomore Lehzan Blake-Moore. “It’s always been my number since I was little,” he said, and he plans for it to live on in that fashion for all time to come.
Numbers will go down in history. The legend of jersey number 32 will always rest in the hands of Magic Johnson and no Laker will ever wear Kobe’s numbers, 8 or 24, without hesitance. There is more behind the number than meets the eye. This may not be true for all, but for many it holds. Stories and tales lie in the digits and as the ages grow on and the present becomes the past, some numbers become symbols of players remembered. Small pieces of the sport such as this make Cleveland’s boys basketball not completely indifferent to that of the NBA all-stars.