13 Most Popular Number In Sports

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Famous athletes are well remembered for their accomplishments and the jersey they wore. The jersey has the players’ names written on it and the number that represents the player, making them the most popular number in sports.

The fans remember some of the most iconic players in sports history with the number they wore. Similarly, young aspiring players also wear the jersey number of their icons.

But there also is the fact that the players can wear more than one number during their career. The players are associated with the number they are most famous with their fans at such times.

Jackie Robinson's iconic number 42
Jackie Robinson’s iconic number 42 (Source: Instagram)

So today, we are looking at some of the most popular numbers in sports and the iconic players who wore the iconic numbers.

Now without further ado, let us look at some of the most popular numbers the players wore.

13 Most Popular Number In Sports

The list has been compiled with the help of various internet sources like BleacherReport, Yardbarker, etc. But before diving into the details, let us look at the list below.

Athlete Number
13. Wilt Chamberlain 13
12. Derek Jeter 2
11. Bill Russell 6
10. Cristiano Ronaldo 7
9. Magic Johson 32
8. Cal Ripken Jr. 8
7. Richard Petty 43
6. Brett Favre 4
5. Wayne Gretzky 99
4. Peyton Manning 18
3. Babe Ruth 3
2. Jackie Robinson 42
1. Michael Jordan 23

13. Wilt Chamberlain (13)

Let us start our list of the most popular numbers in sports with the number 13. Now number 13 may be considered unlucky by many, but there could not be any lucky number for basketball player Wilt Chamberlain.

Chamberlain is regarded as one of the greatest players in history. Throughout his playing career, he played in the number 13 jersey.

Wilt_Chamberlain, First person to score 30000 points
Wilt Chamberlain was, First person to score 30000 points (Source: Lakers Nation.com)

During his career, Chamberlain played for teams like the Harlem Globetrotters, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, and Philadelphia 76ers. He accumulated some of the most impressive wins and awards in his career.

After his professional career, all four franchises retired his number 13. In 1978, Chamberlain was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. 

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12. Derek Jeter (2)

On our number 12, we have the former professional baseball player Derek Jeter and his number 2 jersey as the most popular number in sports. He spent the entire 20 years of his MLB career playing for the New York Yankees.

In his younger days, Jeter wanted to wear the number 13, but he played in number 2 after his debut in MLB in 1995.

He is often considered one of the primary contributors to the Yankees’ success in the league during the late 1990s and early 2000s. He earned nicknames like “Captain Clutch” and “Mr. November for his outstanding play.”

Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter (Source: DraftKings Nations)

Jeter is one of the best players to have worn the jersey number 2. After the 2014 season, Jeter retired from his professional baseball career.

Later in 2017, the New York Yankees also retired his number 2 jersey in his honor. In 2020, Jeter became the Baseball Hall of Famer.

11. Bill Russell (6)

Bill Russell is a former professional basketball player whose career spanned from 1956 to 1969. The player spent all his career with the Boston Celtics and wearing number 3.

Aside from playing in the NBA, he also captained the U.S. national basketball team that won the gold medal in the 1956 Summer Olympics. In 1975. Russell was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Bill Russell
Bill Russell (Source: Boston Celtics History)

LeBron James has also worn the number 6 jersey for a few seasons playing for the Miami Heat. But Russell wore the number for his entire playing career.

Therefore, when NBA fans associate the number 6 with Bill Russell. The Boston Celtics and San Francisco Don both retired his number.

10. Cristiano Ronaldo (7)

Cristiano Ronaldo needs no introduction. His reputation precedes him as he is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.

The number 7 in soccer has become synonymous with Ronaldo. So much so that the five-times Ballon dÓr award winner has the nickname “C7.” 

Ronaldo is one of the few players who have made over 1,100 professional career appearances. He holds some of the top records in soccer history at the moment, not to mention the awards.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo (Source: Sports Illustrated)

The number 7 was also worn by another greatest soccer player, David Beckham. Beckham wore the number while playing with the United but later switched to number 23 after joining Real Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the iconic players in soccer at the moment. He is also one of the highest-paid and most influential athletes globally. The number 7 will forever be synonymous with the Portuguese player.

9. Magic Johnson (32)

On number 9 of the most popular number in sports, we have former NBA player Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. He is regarded as the most outstanding point guard of all time is well recognized for his jersey number 32.

Out of NBA, Johnson also was part of the 1992 U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team, which won the Olympic gold medal. As a result, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame twice.

Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson (Source: Newsweek)

He spent his NBA career playing with number 32. Some of his career highlight achievements include twelve times NBA All-Star, three times NBA Most Valuable Player, nine times All-NBA First Team, five-time NBA champion, etc.

Unfortunately, Johnson’s career was cut short after contracting HIV. After he retired from NBA, the Lakers also retired the number 32 jersey in his honor.

8. Cal Ripken Jr (8)

Nicknamed “The Iron Man,” we have a former baseball shortstop and third baseman Cal Ripken Jr on our number 8 of the most popular number in sports. 

The Baltimore Orioles drafted him in the second round of the 1978 MLB draft. Ripken made his debut in 1981 and spent his entire career playing with the Orioles.

He is considered one of the best shortstops in baseball history. Similarly, he holds the records for most home runs hit as a shortstop and MLB records of 2,632 consecutive games played.

Cal Ripken Jr. in 1993. (Source: commons.wikimedia.org)

He wore the number 8 throughout his career. The Orioles retired Ripken’s number following his retirement. In 2007, he became the Baseball Hall of Famer. 

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7. Richard Petty (43)

The next player is not famous for his jersey number but for driving the No. 43 Plymouth/Pontiac. He is a former second-generation stock car racing driver nicknamed “The King” Richard Petty.

Petty raced from 1958 to 1992 in the former NASCAR Grand National and Winston Cup Series (now NASCAR Cup Series.) He was one of the first stars of NASCAR.

Petty is one of the most respected motorsports figures and most accomplished drivers in the sport’s history. Similarly, he was also the first driver to win the Cup Series championship seven times.

Richard Petty
Richard Petty (Source: Instagram)

He has raced more than 2,000 NASCAR Cup Series races, among which he was behind the wheels of the No. 43 for 1,125 races.

Among other drivers who drove the No. 43, Petty is the only player who dominated the race with it. In 2010, he was inducted into the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

6. Brett Favre (4)

Our number 6 of the most popular number in sports goes to Brett Favre. The former quarterback played 20 seasons in NFL.

Favre made his debut in NFL in 1991 with the Atlanta Falcon. The Falcon drafted him in the second round of the 1991 NFL draft, and he played with the number 4 jersey.

In his 20 years career, he primarily played for the Green Bay Packers. He also played with the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings. Fave played in the number 4 jersey throughout his career.

Brett Favre
Brett Favre (Source: Dairyland Express)

Likewise, he has an impressive list of career highlight wins and awards. He was the NFL leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and quarterback wins in his retirement.

The Packers retired number 4 after Favre’s retirement. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

5. Wayne Gretzky (99)

The number 99 is one of the most recognizable numbers in hockey history. The number is synonymous with the former Canadian ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky.

Gretzky played 20 seasons in NHL and then transitioned to head coach. One of the greatest hockey players, the player is nicknamed “The Great One.”

Gretzky made many records during his career. In NHL history, he is the leading goal, assist producer, and point scorer. When he retired in 1999, he had held excellent 61 NHL records.

Wayne Gretzky while playing (Source: Bleacher Report)
Wayne Gretzky while playing (Source: Bleacher Report)

The number 99 that Greyzky wore is so iconic that there is even a trophy named after it called the “Wayne Gretzky 99 Award.”

He immediately became the Hockey Hall of Famer after retiring. In 2000, the Great One’s number 99 was also retired league-wide.

4. Peyton Manning (18)

The former football quarterback Peyton Manning’s iconic number 18 is our fourth most famous number in sports. He is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

Nicknamed “The Sheriff,” he played 18 seasons in NFL. He first debuted in the NFL in 1998 with the Indianapolis Colts. From 2012 to 2015, he played with the Denver Bronco.

Throughout his career, Manning wore the number 18. However, he was also part of the Tennessee Volunteers football, during which he played in the number 16 jersey.

Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning (Source: Sportscasting)

Manning retired from NFL with a victory in Super Bowl 50 with Broncos. In his honor, Colts retired his number while the Broncos honored it. In 2021, he became the Pro Football Hall of Famer.

3. Babe Ruth (3)

Babe Ruth is a legendary figure in baseball. His number 3 is popular among every baseball fan in the world. He is considered to be the greatest baseball player of all time.

Born on February 6, 1895, Ruth made his MLB debut in 1914 for the Boston Red Sox. Nicknamed “The Sultan of Swat,” he is regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes in American culture.

During his professional career, Ruth also played for the New York Yankees and Boston Braves. His career in MLB spanned 22 years, and he primarily played with the Yankees.

Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth (Source: Baseball Hall of Fame)

The Yankees retired Ruth’s iconic number 3 after his retirement. In 1936, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He passed away at age 53 on August 16, 1948.

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2. Jackie Robinson (42)

Our number 2 of the most popular number in sports goes to the first African American player, Jackie Robinson, number 42. The player is a legendary figure and a trailblazer who broke the color barrier in the sport.

Robinson made his MLB debut in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodger. The Dodgers signing him marked an end of racial segregation in baseball. Therefore, his number 42 carries a massive significance in baseball history.

His career in MLB spanned ten years. Robinson became All-Star, World Series champion, NL Most Valuable Player six times, etc. He was the first black player to achieve the honor.

Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson (Source: Instagram)

After his retirement, all MLB teams retired the number 42. It shows that the number 42 signifies a piece of history in baseball. The legend became the Baseball Hall of Famer in 1962.

Jackie Robinson passed away on October 24, 1972, at age 53.

1. Michael Jordan (23)

We bet you see this coming. Our most famous number in sports is the former NBA player Michael Jordan’s number 23. He is considered the greatest basketball player and a cultural icon.

Jordan played an integral part in popularizing NBA worldwide in the 1980s and 1990s. He made his debut in the NBA in 1984 with Chicago Bulls and spent 15 seasons playing in the NBA.

Although he played with number 23 at the beginning of his career, Jordan later changed into number 42. However, the number 23 became synonymous with him and his image.

Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan (Source: CNN)

The face of the NBA, Jordan retired after the 2003 season. With his retirement, the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat retired the number.

There could be no denying that the number 23 will forever be the most iconic in the history of the NBA.


The numbers in sports have always played a symbolic part. Sometimes after the players retire from their playing career, their iconic number is also retired as a tribute to them.

No other future players in that franchise can use the retired number jersey again. This shows how important and iconic the numbers are in the sport and the player. Thank you for reading!

Boby Rai
Boby Raihttps://playersbio.com/

Boby Rai

Boby Rai is a dedicated writer who specializes in capturing the essence of sporting excellence through his unique lens. As the creative mind behind numerous sports-centric projects, he brings a fresh perspective to the world of athletics, blending insightful commentary with captivating narratives.


Sports Journalism Feature Writing


  • Boby's writing transcends conventional boundaries, offering readers a glimpse into the lesser-known stories.
  • His feature articles provide a deep dive into the human side of sports, exploring the emotions, challenges, and aspirations.


Armed with a passion for sports and a gift for storytelling, Boby has honed his craft through years of immersive experiences in the field. With a keen eye for detail and an unwavering commitment to authenticity, he continues to inspire and inform readers through his thought-provoking work.

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