What are the NBA Jersey number rules?

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All NBA Jersey numbers are intrinsic to NBA players. Numbers can be chosen by a player for a sentimental reason or there can be no reason at all. We’ve mentioned before how number 23 is iconic with Michael Jordan. But are there any rules that’s determined what numbers that can be put on the back of an NBA Jersey.

What are NBA jersey number rules? NBA players can pick numbers from 00 – 99. If the jersey a player wants is retired, then the player has to write to the individual to ask permissions to wear that jersey number.

We have taken a look at the rules in relation to jersey numbers. Are there any jersey numbers that NBA players not allowed to wear? What happens when an NBA player goes to a team and their jersey number is retired?

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Is the number 69 banned in the NBA?

Any request for jersey number needs to be approved by the NBA. Dennis Rodman moved to the Dallas Mavericks in 2000 and requested that he had the number 69 jersey. Mark Cuban was so excited to have Rodman on his team that he agreed and even had some jerseys made up. Even though Cubans purchase of the Dallas Mavericks had yet to be ratified by the NBA. David Stern reviewed Rodmans request and felt the number 69 had negative connotations particular for such a high profile player such as Dennis Rodman.

When Rodman heard that he had has number choice rejected, he chose to have number 70 instead. As a point of reference no player has have worn the number 69 jersey in the NBA.

The NBA only allows two digit  numbers on the back of their Jersey.

The NBA only allows numbers which have two digits. For instance you can have 00 however, you cannot have 000. Therefore, the numbers which NBA players can choose from are 00-99 (with the exception of number 69).

How often can NBA players change their numbers during the season

NBA players can change their number in the off-season. NBA players don’t usually change their jersey numbers.

What happens when a players number is retired ?

If a players moves to a team and their jersey number is retired then the team/player have to write to the retired player and request use of the number. This is less likely to happen with players who have recently retired as it would be seen as inconsiderate. Also you have to have a big ego to go to a team like the Boston Celtics and request to wear the number 33 of Larry Bird.

Special exemptions for jersey number changes?

Yes, when Kobe Bryant tragically passed away with his daughter in a helicopter in January 2020. The NBA authorised a number of players to change their Jersey number to 8 or 24 in honour of Kobe Bryant.


A basketball court was built in my local park and at 15 years of age I fell in love with basketball. A late joiner to the game, I have played every season since. Some Indiana friends bought me some Pacers gear for my 17th birthday, and I have supported them ever since (who wants to follow the crowd). I love American sports apparel and the presentation of sports, they do it so well (bar all the advert breaks).

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