Sunday, July 14, 2024

Here’s why NBA and WNBA stars wear different jersey numbers for Team USA

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Michael Jordan made No. 23 iconic with the Chicago Bulls, but he never donned the number with Team USA.

The basketball legend instead wore No. 9 during his two Olympic runs, both of which resulted in gold medals. He sported the number in his Olympic debut in 1984 before he ever played in the NBA, and he returned to No. 9 as a member of the 1992 Dream Team.

Jordan isn’t the only star American basketball player to switch up their jerseys at the Olympics. Jayson Tatum will not wear his Boston Celtics No. 0 in Paris this summer, nor will Steph Curry wear the No. 30 he reps with the Golden State Warriors. The same goes for Las Vegas Aces No. 22 A’ja Wilson and New York Liberty No. 30 Breanna Stewart.

Why do USA Basketball players switch up their jersey numbers in red, white and blue? Here’s a look back at where the tradition started and what NBA and WNBA stars will sport in Paris.

Why do USA Basketball teams only use jersey numbers 4-15?

Old international basketball rules restricted players to Nos. 4-15 to make it easier on game officials to communicate with hand signals, per NBC Olympics’ Nick Zaccardi.

FIBA dropped the rule in 2014, but USA Basketball still uses Nos. 4-15 for its men’s and women’s teams to maintain a level of tradition.

Do USA Basketball players wear the same jersey numbers they do in the NBA and WNBA?

Not every USA Basketball player can wear their NBA or WNBA jersey number at the Olympics.

Of course, not every Team USA player wears a jersey number between 4-15 on their professional team. Additionally, multiple members of an Olympic team could wear the same number in the pros.

Just two players on the U.S. men’s basketball team for the 2024 Olympics will wear their NBA jersey number in Paris: Anthony Edwards (No. 5) and Bam Adebayo (No. 13). Not a single player on the U.S. women’s basketball team will do the same with their WNBA jerseys.

Team USA men’s basketball jersey numbers for 2024 Olympics

Here is the list of jersey numbers for the U.S. men’s basketball team at the 2024 Paris Olympics:

  • Steph Curry: No. 4
  • Anthony Edwards: No. 5
  • LeBron James: No. 6
  • Kevin Durant: No. 7
  • Kawhi Leonard: No. 8
  • Tyrese Haliburton: No. 9
  • Jayson Tatum: No. 10
  • Joel Embiid: No. 11
  • Jrue Holiday: No. 12
  • Bam Adebayo: No. 13
  • Anthony Davis: No. 14
  • Devin Booker: No. 15

WNBA champion Kahleah Copper is making her Olympic debut in Paris 2024 after missing out on a roster spot in Tokyo. The Phoenix Mercury star talks to reporter Khristina Williams about what she’s looking forward to most about being on Team USA and why getting to share the experience with teammates Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi is so meaningful.

Team USA women’s basketball jersey numbers for 2024 Olympics

Here is the list of jersey numbers for the U.S. women’s basketball team at the 2024 Paris Olympics:

  • Jewell Loyd: No. 4
  • Kelsey Plum: No. 5
  • Sabrina Ionescu: No. 6
  • Kahleah Copper: No. 7
  • Chelsea Gray: No. 8
  • A’ja Wilson: No. 9
  • Breanna Stewart: No. 10
  • Napheesa Collier: No. 11
  • Diana Taurasi: No. 12
  • Jackie Young: No. 13
  • Alyssa Thomas: No. 14
  • Brittney Griner: No. 15

Do other countries also follow the old Olympic basketball jersey number rule?

Two other countries joined the U.S. by only using Nos. 4-15 on their basketball rosters: Australia (men’s and women’s) and China (women’s).

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