Michael Jordan's jersey number 23 was retired by the Miami Heat as a mark of respect. Don't just point and laugh at the Heat. Pete Maravich's number was retired by the New Orleans Pelicans, although he regrettably died 14 years before the Pelicans were founded.
In 1995, the NBA banned players who had completed their rookie seasons before the start of the 1994-95 season (i.e., prior to January 1, 1995) from having their numbers retired. The league wanted to prevent former North Carolina Tar Heels star Michael Jordan from being honored by every other team in the league. At the time, Jordan was still under contract with the Chicago Bulls; however, when that agreement expired after this season, the Miami Heat became the first franchise to retire his number.
The only other player ever to have his number retired by an NBA team is Pete Maravich, who died in 1988 after completing his only season with the New Orleans Jazz. The Jazz retired his number in 1991 - one year after his death.
Even though Michael Jordan played for the Washington Wizards for part of the 1995-96 season, they did not retire his number because he had signed with the Bulls before the start of that season.
Only six separate teams have retired the number 23 in honor of five different players. The Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat both retired it in honor of Michael Jordan, despite the fact that Jordan never played for the Heat. Jordan is one of 14 players whose numbers have been retired by two separate clubs (including Sloan, who had his playing No. 23 retired by the Celtics).
The Brooklyn Dodgers retired Jackie Robinson's uniform number in 1972. However, they did not retire his entire number; instead, they retired only his jersey number (which was then worn by a reserve first baseman). As such, Robinson still appeared on the club roster with his number intact. The NFL has no rule prohibiting players from wearing numbers they have previously worn elsewhere, so many former players continue to wear their retired numbers.
In addition to Jordan, other notable players who have had their numbers retired include Bill Russell (Boston Celtics), Moses Malone (Houston Rockets), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Los Angeles Lakers), Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs), and Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs).
There are several reasons why numbers are retired in sports. First of all, coaches and fans want to honor their favorite players from years past. Also, numbers are often passed down through families, so retiring them preserves them for future generations.
Number retirement has become more common over time. In the early days of baseball, there were few rules regarding what players could do after their careers were over.
After Michael Jordan retired from basketball, it was just a matter of time before the Chicago Bulls retired his No. 23 jersey. Jordan's No. 23 jersey was retired by the Miami Heat, a franchise he never played for, after he played one last time. The Bulls retired Jordan's jersey on February 10, 2009 during a game against the New York Knicks.
Jordan had announced his retirement on April 6, 2003 after playing his final game with the Bulls in the 2002 NBA Playoffs. However, he returned for one more season before retiring for good. The reason for his return season was so that he could be in uniform when his former team played their first game following the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season. The Bulls lost that game, which was played on October 30, 2002, and it wasn't until several months later that Jordan officially retired for good.
However, there are some who believe that Jordan didn't retire completely. He had said in an interview that he planned to continue playing in Russia after the 2004-05 season. Many believed that this was just something that he said to promote his latest movie release but now these rumors have resurfaced. There have been reports that have come out of Russia claiming that Jordan has signed with CSKA Moscow and will be playing for them this upcoming season.
Jordan's number 23 jersey was retired by the Miami Heat in April 2003 to celebrate Jordan's basketball accomplishments and efforts. The "23" logo was placed on the façade of Miami's American Airlines Arena, where the Heat play their home games.
Number 23 was also retired by the University of Miami (UM) in Jordan's honor. A statue of him holding a basketball is located outside of what used to be known as the Ryan Center, now known as the Shula Sports Complex.
In addition, number 23 is worn by UM coaches when they travel to South Beach to face the Heat in basketball. The last time this happened was in 2009 when Kevin O'Neill wore it while he was coaching the Heat.
Number 23 has also been retired by several other teams in various sports. They are: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tar Heels men's basketball team; the UNC School of Medicine; and the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
A player or coach who has number 23 retired from one team will not be allowed to wear that number again.