Which star has your number?

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Which star has your number?

One of the biggest moments of any kid's sports season is when he gets his uniform. The first question is often: What's my number?

When I coached, I handed out the jerseys and the kids traded until they got their "favorite" number. My daughter, Kerry, for example, always wanted No. 17 because she was born on Jan. 17.

I have the perfect book for any kid who has a favorite sports number: "Any Given Number: Who Wore It Best, From 00 to 99."

The editors of Sports Illustrated decided which athletes were the best to wear a particular uniform number. The fun comes from the lists of great players and all the arguments -- contained in a section for each number labeled "The Debate" -- about the players.

Some players own a number: Babe Ruth was No. 3; Michael Jordan, 23; and Wayne Gretsky, 99.

No. 32 may be the hardest number of all. Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown is often called the greatest football player ever. He led the National Football League in rushing yards in eight of the nine seasons he played.

But basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson was a three-time Most Valuable Player and led the Los Angeles Lakers (along with No. 33 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) to five National Basketball Association championships in the 1980s.

Then there's Sandy Koufax. The Dodgers' left-handed pitcher led the National League in earned run average (ERA) five years in a row.

Brown, Johnson and Koufax all wore No. 32. So who's the best?

The book is not just arguments. It also contains some stories behind the numbers. Pittsburgh Penguins center Sydney Crosby chose to wear 87 because his birthday is Aug. 7, 1987, or 8/7/87.

Baseball Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson wore six numbers -- 14, 22, 24, 25, 35 and 39 -- during his 25-year career.

Maybe Henderson understood that a number is not that important.

One night, Michael Jordan's regular shirt was stolen before the game. Jordan wore number 12 that night, and what happened? He scored 49 points.

So find the book, sit down with your mom or dad or some older sports fan and start talking sports -- and numbers.



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