The Tennessee basketball team released jersey numbers for the team’s new additions on Tuesday. The football team released the digits for its new guys Monday, and you can read about that by clicking here.
(Brief : Go check out the number assignments for the new guys from Monday. Malachai Wideman dunking on hapless DBs in the No. 1 and Tyler Baron careening off the edge to pummel opposing quarterbacks in No. 9 is gonna break the place on my phone where the fire emoji is located. Let’s hope Baron plays like the last notable defender who wore No. 9 — Derek Barnett.)
There’s not many more intimate relationships in sports than a player and his or her jersey number. Sometimes it’s completely about aesthetics. I’m an Orlando Magic fan, and I’ve always thought Penny Hardaway and Tracy McGrady looked incredibly dope wearing No. 1. Some may say that’s trivial, but I disagree. Allen Iverson changed the landscape of fashion in the NBA by wearing a long sleeve on his arm. Look good, feel good, play good.
For some, though, the connection is about something more than looking cool or setting a trend. It’s an homage or special show of deference to a friend of family member who also wore that number. Eric Berry going from No. 14 at Tennessee to No. 29 in the pros to honor Inky Johnson comes to mind.
At LSU, the football team’s No. 7 is reserved yearly for the player who, on and off the field, is the best embodiment of the qualities that the staff and program are trying to instill in their young men. You’ve gotta be good, sure, but those who wear No. 7 are expected to be more than that — leaders, examples and competitors.
Sorry — I just wanted all that out there for anybody who thinks this post is silly or unnecessary. There’s more to a number selection than just what’s on the surface.
Back to business: the most peculiar selection here is Keon Johnson’s No. 45. Johnson wore 23 in high school and No. 47 at a Team USA Junior National mini-camp, and it’s more typical for guards to wear lower numbers.
So I’m not sure what made Johnson choose No. 45, but the most famous player to wear No. 45 that I’m aware of is Michael Jordan when he came back to the Bulls after his stint playing baseball. I’d be surprised if that’s Johnson’s motivation, and would like to know what the exact story here is.
EJ Anosike has made post players everywhere proud by picking No. 55. It’s big and powerful — no dainty, single-digit numbers for Anosike, no sir. He wore No. 24 at Sacred Heart, but will honor his old sister Nicky by wearing her old number in Knoxville.
Jaden Springer and Corey Walker both kept their numbers from their high school teams, No. 11 at IMG Academy and No. 15 at Hargrave Military, respectively. Their selections aren’t very surprising.
Hopefully the staff is saving Lamonte’s No. 1 for Kennedy Chandler 8^)