In its long and proud history that spans over a century since the team was founded in 1900, Syracuse Orange has been the home of many great players and future NBA stars. In a tradition that is also followed in other NCAA teams like Connecticut, Kansas and Kentucky, Syracuse has decided to “honor” the jerseys of the most outstanding players to ever play on its roster, instead of retiring them – although unofficially other players are “discouraged” from choosing an honored number. Here are our top 5 picks of Orangemen who saw their jerseys honored in such a fashion.
5. Billy Gabor – No. 17
The 5’11” Forward/Guard was an incredible playmaker and despite his small stature he often led his team in scoring – which quickly earned him the affectionate nickname “The Bullet”. Born in 1922, Gabor left in 1943 to serve in WWII till 1945 when he returned to Syracuse. He was the first to lead Syracuse in scoring all four years and was the first Syracuse player to surpass 400 points in a single season, finishing his time with Orange as their (then) all-time leading scorer at 1,344 points. He was also the first Orangeman to have a significant NBA Career, as he played from 1948 to 1955 with the Syracuse Nationals, winning the 1955 NBA Championship and making the All-Star team in 1953.
4. Rony Seikaly – No. 4
Born in Lebanon and raised in Greece, Seikaly was one of the first international players to really make their presence felt in US basketball. His time in Syracuse helped him tremendously improve his raw athletic talent and gradually overcome his foul-prone style of playing, developing into an incredible rebounder that would lead his team in scoring in his senior year. He was drafted as 9th pick by the Miami Heat in 1988 and would go on to play for the Golden State Warriors, Orlando Magic and the New Jersey Nets, finishing his career overseas in FC Barcelona. In 1990 he was named the NBA Most Improved Player.
3. Derrick Coleman – No. 44
Left-handed Coleman was one of the best all-around players that Syracuse ever had, and possibly the team’s best ever rebounder. His ball-handling skills combined with his focus on team play made him perfect for Orange, where he shared his time in court with Seikaly and Billy Owens. He was named Big East Player of the Year in 1990 and NBA Rookie of the Year in 1991, after he was drafted first overall by the New Jersey Nets and he became an NBA ALL-Star in 1994.
2. Carmelo Anthony – No. 15
Already an NBA legend, Melo spent just one year in Syracuse, but he made quite an impact. He led the Orangemen to their only National Championship title so far and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2002-2003 season. He was picked by the Denver Nuggets, continued to the New York Knicks and currently plays in the Oklahoma City Thunder – and is frequently the reason why his team does relatively well in odds in the NBA betting on bet365 – in late February, before the final regular-season stretch, they were priced at +2500 to win the Western Conference and at +4500 to win the NBA Championship. Just on March 6, 2018, when Oklahoma played the Rockets, he made it to the NBA Top 20 scoring list – he has also been an All-Star 10 times. And the future still looks bright for Anthony.
1. Dave Bing – No. 22
The 6’3″ Guard is considered by many to be the greatest player Syracuse ever produced. He led the team in points all three years and is possibly the best Orangeman in assists ever. Drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1966, he was named an NBA Rookie of the Year in 1967, was selected as an NBA All-Star 7 times and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Detroit Pistons also retired his No. 21 jersey – and, after he left the court, he went on to become the 74th Mayor of Detroit.
There are many more players out there that still deserve this special honor – and the Orangemen know how to honor their past and remember their legends.