Number 35. Kevin Durant is arguably the best player in the NBA wearing this number on his back. Night after night he defies logic and crushes on someone or drains that dagger three ball that has Kevin Harlan shouting “Right between the eyes!” Durant even rocks the killer instinct Lebron James thinks Chris Bosh and Shane Battier must have (why else would he pass to them in the clutch).
This got me to thinking who the best NBA ballers of all time to wear number 35 are and what the criteria would be (Bacon Sports style of course). After dissecting the careers of all 159 players to don the digits, some specific criteria had to be met. The following were prerequisites: NBA Champion, career average of 8 points per game or less, and a unique quality or record that no Average Joe could claim. That leaves us with the five greatest ballers ever to rep the number 35 in NBA History.
Brian Cardinal: NBA champion 2011 with the Dallas Mavericks. 4.6 ppg.
The Custodian was known for his hustle and hard-nosed style of play, doing jobs no one else wanted to. His most famous play came in the 2011 NBA finals where he formed a human wall Dwayne Wade ran into and bounced off injuring his hip. Cardinal is what Stu Grimson was to the NHL, an enforcer. Most impressively is that BC landed a 6 year $38 million dollar deal after averaging 9 points per game, making him a rich man’s Brian Scalabrine. Now you have merit to stand on tomorrow when you ask your boss for that much deserved raise.
Danny Ferry: NBA Champion 2003 with the San Antonio Spurs. 7.0 ppg.
Mr. Ferry was a marksman from the court, especially beyond the perimeter; he just had to get the playing time on the court to show everyone, which was the problem. Ferry was wise beyond his years when he forced his way out from the Los Angeles Clippers upon being drafted in 1989. He parlayed this into becoming GM of the Cleveland Cavaliers where he set himself apart from other number 35’s. His inaugural free agent class included Donyell Marshall, signing Larry Hughes to a max contract, and Damon Jones, who at this point in his career was “Amon Ones, no D, no J”. Most notably he orchestrated the blindsiding of the NBA by drafting one Luke Jackson tenth overall in the draft. Bravo, Danny, well done.
Jud Buechler: NBA Champion 1996, 97, 98 with the Chicago Bulls. 3.3 ppg.
With a name like Jud, you would think he belongs on the Cleveland Browns coaching staff. An All American volleyball player at the University of Arizona, “The Judge” was a sharp shooter known for slow foot movement, long-range daggers, and clutch shooting during the Chicago Bulls first three peat. He is most known for being the NBA’s all-time leader in trillions. For those who do not know, a trillion occurs when one plays in a game and does not register a single stat, hence having a stat line followed by twelve zeroes. Logging 55 of these in his career puts “The Judge” in the category of Damon Jones, except Buechler did play defense.
Mark Madsen: NBA Champion 2001, 02 with the Los Angeles Lakers. 2.2 ppg 2.6 rpg.
“Mad Dog Madsen” was the only player who could stop Shaq’s dominant play, albeit on the practice court. Shaq recalled “he used to beat me up in practice”. Sure Shaq, and Grizzly Adams had a beard. Would you expect anything less from a Stanford white boy who is most famous for dancing during a World Championship parade? This alone was a precursor and helped guide the Los Angeles Lakers to a NBA title, not Shaq or Kobe. Seriously, if you have not seen this video, it will change your life . If I told you it was NOT my go to move at the bar to pick up ladies, I would be lying.
Adam Morrison: NBA Champion 2009, 2010 with the Los Angeles Lakers. 7.5 ppg.
The former third overall draft pick was an integral part of the Los Angeles Lakers back to back title run. At 7.5 ppg for his career, he is clearly the class of the all 35 team. Morrison was Michael Jordan’s first draft pick as GM of the Charlotte Bobcats and you can bet Jordan is still haunted for letting him go just like the Boston Red Sox are for trading Babe Ruth. It is still debated to this day as to what is more questionable: his hair or his defense. His pube-stache is in a category that is as untouchable as Kobe Bryant in Denver hotels. But his desperado style long hair was a cover up to distract the opposing team from his deadly defending skills. What put him on the map is when he tore his ACL defending Luke Walton, even Manti Te’o could not make something this crazy up. This is the equivalent of letting Sid Bream score from second base on a single to left field.
It is a shame these five were never assembled on the same court at the same time, or the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls would not be considered the greatest team ever. At some point when you take your kids to visit the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, do not be surprised to see an exhibit on the all 35 team. Next time you see Kevin Durant make an unbelievable play or throw down a nasty rim-rattler, remember he has quite a way to go in order to go down as one of the best to wear number 35.