Can You Match the Sports Legend to His Retired Number?

SPORTS

By: Gavin Thagard

6 Min Quiz

Image: WikiCommons via Keith Allison

About This Quiz

What is a number? That's the question you have to ask when you think about the most gifted athletes to ever take the field in their respective sports. After all, players often become as associated with the numbers on the back of their jerseys as with the names that run across them. How often do you hear an announcer say QB 12 threw a touchdown or number 8 slams one down? 

Of course, you might say that it seems silly to put so much weight behind a simple number, but there's a reason they retire a great player's number when their career is finished. Sure, it's an honor, but it's also a recognition of all the spectacular moments that occurred as that number flashed past the eyes of fans over and over. 

From football to basketball to various other sports, do you know the great players across these sports and the numbers they wore? Do you know which teams retired those numbers that put on miraculous performance after miraculous performance? 

If you have knowledge of all the retired numbers across an array of sports, here's your chance to test your knowledge. Get started and see how well you really know these legendary athletes! 

Often regarded as the greatest basketball player of all-time, who had their number 23 retired by the Bulls?

Michael Jordan retired during the prime of his NBA career to play baseball after the death of his father. He returned a few years later, winning three more NBA titles.

Advertisement

One of the greatest running backs in NFL history, the Bears retired number 34 for which player?

Walter Payton finished his career as the NFL all-time leading rusher. However, that record was broken by Emmitt Smith who still holds the record with 18,355 yards.

Advertisement

This NHL player had his number 99 retired across the entire league. Who is he?

Playing from 1979 until 1999, Wayne Gretzky set a host of NHL records during his career, including most goals and most assists. For his play, he was selected to 18 All-Star games.

Advertisement

Known as "The Iron Man," who had their number 8 retired by the Orioles?

Cal Ripken Jr. spent his entire MLB career with the Baltimore Orioles. One of his greatest achievements while playing for the Orioles was winning the 1983 World Series against the Phillies.

Advertisement

Which legendary point guard for the Detroit Pistons had his number 11 retired?

Isiah Thomas was famously left off the 1992 U.S. Olympic basketball team, which would win gold that year. According to speculation, Michael Jordan had a hand in keeping Thomas from participating.

Advertisement

A giant at the center position, which NBA player had their number 11 retired by the Houston Rockets?

Yao Ming was a physical force on the basketball court, especially in an era with other great big men like Shaquille O'Neal. Injuries eventually slowed him down, and he finally retired in 2011 after only eight seasons in the league.

Advertisement

Wearing number 12, he is one of only three players from the Buffalo Bills with a retired number. Who is he?

Jim Kelly guided the Buffalo Bills to four straight Super Bowls from the 1990 season to the 1993 season. However, his team lost all four games.

Advertisement

This NBA star was the leader of the "Showtime" Lakers who retired his number 32. Who is he?

Earvin "Magic" Johnson initially retired from the NBA in 1991 after finding out he had HIV. He made a return to the league in 1996, playing one season before retiring permanently.

Advertisement

Which famous quarterback's number 13 was retired by the Miami Dolphins?

Drafted in 1983, Dan Marino had a successful career as he set a host of records and won numerous awards. However, the elite quarterback never won a Super Bowl.

Advertisement

Which former Browns player had number 32 retired by the team?

Jim Brown went into acting after he left the NFL. He played in such movies as "The Condor," "Dirty Dozen," and "100 Rifles."

Advertisement

Which former quarterback had his number 18 retired by the Indianapolis Colts?

Peyton Manning suffered a neck injury that forced him to miss the 2011 season. His team went 2-14, the worst record in the league, and earned the first pick in the 2012 NFL draft. The Colts decided to move on from Manning, drafting quarterback Andrew Luck to take his place.

Advertisement

A former Super Bowl champion, who had their number 4 retired by the Green Bay Packers?

Brett Favre started an astounding 297 straight games during his NFL career. That's an NFL record that may never be broken, as no current player is anywhere close.

Advertisement

Known as the "Black Mamba," which Lakers' player had his number 8 and 24 retired?

Kobe Bryant spent the first half of his career playing beside Shaquille O'Neal. However, conflict over who should lead the team forced the Lakers to part ways with O'Neal, as Kobe went on to win two more championships with the Lakers.

Advertisement

One of the greatest wide receivers to ever lace up, the 49ers retired number 80 for which player?

Jerry Rice played beside two Hall of Fame quarterbacks during his career in San Fransisco. He won two Super Bowls with Joe Montana and a single Super Bowl with Steve Young.

Advertisement

Playing beside Michael Jordan for the Chicago Bulls, who had their number 33 retired by the team?

Scottie Pippen was a dominant force on the defensive side of the ball. His defensive prowess was evident by his selection to eight NBA All-Defensive First Teams.

Advertisement

The Pirates retired number 21 for this MLB legend who died in a plane crash. Who is he?

Roberto Clemente was selected to the MLB Hall of Fame the year following his death. His selection was unique because players initially had to wait five years before they could be selected.

Advertisement

This player had his number 14 retired by the Chicago Cubs where he spent his entire career. Who is he?

Ernie Banks was so popular among Cubs' fans that he earned the nickname "Mr. Cub." Banks never won a World Series with the team, but he was selected to 14 All-Star games and was twice named the NL MVP.

Advertisement

The New York Giants retired number 56 for this game-changing linebacker. Who is he?

Lawrence Taylor revolutionized the linebacker position in the NFL. He was particularly great at getting after the quarterback in passing situations, racking up 132.5 sacks throughout his career.

Advertisement

A three-time NBA champion, who had their number 33 retired by the Celtics?

Larry Bird had a successful career as a player and later as a coach and executive. His success was evident by his three NBA MVP awards, an NBA Coach of the Year award, and an Executive of the Year award.

Advertisement

The first African-American in baseball, who had his number 42 retired across the entire league?

Jackie Robinson came into the league as an immediate star, earning the Rookie of the Year award in 1947. Two years later, he won the NL MVP, cementing his legacy as a great player.

Advertisement

Known as the first player to average a triple-double for a season in the NBA, which player's number 1 was retired by the Milwaukee Bucks?

In 1971, Oscar Robertson led the Bucks to the franchise's only NBA championship. Robertson won the title after averaging 18.3 points and 8.9 assists in the playoffs.

Advertisement

Known for a 1970s Coca-Cola commercial, the Pittsburgh Steelers retired number 75 for which player?

Joe Greene was part of the "Steel Curtain" defensive line that dominated the NFL throughout the 1970s. As a leader on the defense, he was a centerpiece in the Steelers' four Super Bowl victories during that era.

Advertisement

Before having his number 6 retired, this MLB player made 24 All-Star games for the Cardinals. Who is he?

Stan Musial helped the Cardinals win the 1942 World Series. Deputing at the end of the 1941 season, 1942 was his first full season in the league.

Advertisement

An 11-time NBA champion, who had their number 6 retired by the Celtics?

Bill Russell was instrumental in breaking down racial​ barriers in the NBA. His hiring as the first black NBA head coach was particularly important for the development of the league.

Advertisement

Nicknamed "The Say Hey Kid," which MLB player's number 24 was retired by the San Francisco Giants?

Willie Mays was elected to 24 All-Star games, a record he shares with Hank Aaron and Stan Musial. His first All-Star selection came in 1954, the same season he won the NL MVP.

Advertisement

This home run king had his number 3 retired by the Yankees. Who is he?

Babe Ruth changed the game of baseball in the 1920s by continuously pushing the home run bar further and further. He finished his career with 714 home runs, a record that wouldn't be broken until Hank Aaron came along.

Advertisement

This player spent his entire NBA career with the San Antonio Spurs who retired his number 21. Who is he?

Tim Duncan played the early part of his career alongside David Robinson. Known as "The Twin Towers," they were a dominant force underneath the basket.

Advertisement

This player spent his entire career with the Boston Red Sox, who retired his number 9. Who is he?

Ted Williams left baseball to serve in WWII and the Korean War. During both wars, Williams served as a naval aviator.

Advertisement

A great enough hockey player to be named "Mr. Hockey," who had their number 9 retired by the Detroit Red Wings?

Gordie Howe played 26 seasons in the NHL, which is the longest career span of any player in the history of the league. 25 of those seasons were spent with the Detroit Red Wings.

Advertisement

Nicknamed "The Golden Jet," who had their number 9 retired by the Arizona Coyotes?

Bobby Hull had a level of athleticism that few other NHL players could match. He was often a defensive nightmare and opposing teams would assign players just to guard him.

Advertisement

The Los Angeles Rams retired number 28 for which three-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year?

Marshall Faulk was a centerpiece in a Rams' offense that was known as "The Greatest Show on Turf." The offense also included quarterback Kurt Warner along with receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.

Advertisement

The Milwaukee Bucks retired number 33 for this former legend. Who is he?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar finished his career as the all-time leading scorer in the NBA. He also finished third on the list of all-time rebounds, behind only Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell.

Advertisement

The Atlanta Braves retired number 10 for this former NL MVP. Who is he?

Chipper Jones was taken by the Atlanta Braves with the first overall pick in the 1990 MLB draft. Jones spent his entire career with the​ organization, helping the team win a World Series in 1995.

Advertisement

Wearing number 4, he was the first player to have his number retired in MLB. Which Yankees player is he?

Lou Gehrig's career was cut short by his battle with ALS. Two years after his retirement, the disease took his life.

Advertisement

After playing 23 seasons in the NHL, who had their number 2 retired by the Calgary Flames?

Al MacInnis had a very lengthy playing career that lasted 23 seasons in the NHL. He also played on Canada's international team, winning gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Advertisement

Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!