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New ‘Best Players by Uni Number’ Graphics for Denver and Detroit (and Phoenix!)

Last week I wrote a short post about a graphic that CHGO Sports had created to show the best Chicago athlete at every uni number. At the end of that piece, I wrote, “I hope someone out there is already planning similar graphics for other sports towns.”

And now my hopes have been answered! CHGO Sports’s sister outlet DNVR Sports has created a corresponding graphic for Denver (above left), and Uni Watch reader Marc Mayntz — who you may recall as the guy who recently created flag designs for all the Big Four pro teams — has created something similar for Detroit.

I’m not concerned about the individual player choices — other people can debate that. I’m more interested in the aesthetic aspects of the two graphics. Let’s look at them one at a time.


Right off the bat, the first thing that jumps out at me (well, aside from all that orange) is that they didn’t use vertically arched lettering for the Avalanche NOBs, which is soooooo disappointing. Really makes the whole thing feel less authentic, less professional. Also, the Rockies’ number font doesn’t look right (at least for certain numerals), and some of the NOBs don’t seem properly centered over their numbers (look at Alex English at No. 2, for example).

On the plus side, creating a franken-graphic for Patrick Roy and Larry Walker at No. 33 is an inspired move — nicely done!


Some interesting choices here by Mayntz. For example:

  • He’s done a mix of home and road jerseys, which adds visual interest. (The Denver graphic would have benefitted from this, especially with all those orange Broncos squares.) As he explained when emailing this graphic to me, “I made it so no two identical colors touched. I almost didn’t make it, but thankfully I could use a Megatron BFBS jersey, which made the 80s row line up.”
  • Good job of making all the typography era-appropriate.
  • Relatedly, here we have our first NNOB squares. Satisfying from an authenticity standpoint but not as informative. I mean, I know No. 9 is for Gordie Howe, but I had to look up who wore No. 37 years ago for the Lions. (It was Doak Walker.)
  • We also have our first graphic to include a pick for No. 00.
  • Vertically arched NOBs for the Red Wings!
  • My only gripe: The whole thing feels a bit too crowded. Might’ve been better to make the typography smaller and allow more breathing room around the border of each square.

I’m hoping we’ll keep seeing more of these for other cities, and that the people creating them will continue to refine and improve the format. Lots of fun to be had with these!

Update: Just a few minutes after I published this post, I was informed that PHNX Sports has created a “Best by Number” graphic for Phoenix:

I’ll let other people critique this one. Keep ’em coming!

Comments (37)

    Having the uniforms era-appropriate makes such a huge difference. Bravo Detroit!

    Agreed. All the Broncos’ jerseys in the Denver graphic would be so much more visually interesting if they included the old Orange Crush jerseys, the blue modern jerseys from 1997-2012, and the orange modern jerseys from 2012-present.

    Regarding Detroit #85 Chuck Hughes lost his life on the football field while Ebron lost the ball half the time he had it. No beefs otherwise.

    Way too good of an opportunity to pass up imo. If you’re unfamiliar, Roy-ker is pronounced the exact same as Walker. Both legends, both #33. Gotta take that when you get the chance

    As a Denver resident/Denver sports fan, I absolutely loved that! Nice little play on words/names.

    It’s also chosen/based on a “Roy-ker” jersey that you’ll see somewhat regularly-ish at Rockies or Avs games, or just around town in Denver.

    (This is the best link I could find showing one: link)

    I would prefer pro to college, so here’s some quick changed to the Arizona one (with some other preferences included) – 2 – Joe Johnson, 4 – Michael Finley, 7 – Kevin Johnson, 9 – Dan Majerle, 12 – Steve Finley, 14 – Jeff Hornacek, 15 – Danny Manning, 25 – Gail Goodrich, 27 – Teppo Numminen, 29 – Paul Silas, 32 – Jason Kidd, 42 – Connie Hawkins, 44 – Paul Westphal, 45 – A.C. Green, 63 – Michael Bankston

    Phoenix 91 is Josh Doan? I guess that’s the first father and son on one of these.

    I have a hard time leaving Dan Issel (#44) and David Thomson (#33) off of the Denver one.

    Yes. Agree both are great Nuggets.
    Log jam for #33. Thompson was great, but hard to surpass Walker or Roy

    Issel wore #25 for a couple of seasons with the Nuggets and I think that puts him well above Chris Harris Jr.

    Floyd Little (HOF) vs Dan Issel (HOF). I’d say Issel above Little. Why?
    1. Issel is a member of the all time ABA team
    2. Issel’s Nuggets went to the playoffs every year whereas the Broncos with Little didn’t get to the playoffs until 2 years after he retired.

    Proofreading: “The whole thing feels a bit too crowed.” I believe you meant “crowded.”

    Disappointed that the Phoenix one included colleges, with ASU and Arizona, which is in Tucson.

    Disappointed that the U of A players are even in there, but since they are, why THAT font? Not only is it one the Cats never used, it is identical to the one used in the graphic to (correctly) represent the early D’backs?!?!
    The fact that Seth Joyner is the #59 (LOVED him as an Eagle but his best days were in Philadelphia) and the need to use athletes from a college a few hours down the road confirms that Phoenix is a sports wasteland.

    “On the plus side, creating a franken-graphic for Patrick Roy and Larry Walker at No. 33 is an inspired move — nicely done!”

    Not just that, but if you pronounce Roy the correct way, it still sounds like “Walker” when said aloud! Roy-ker.

    From an aesthetic standpoint, these are fun. From a “generate debate” standpoint, they’re equally fun. As a longtime Denver resident and fan of all the city’s pro teams, I feel most qualified to weigh in on the substantive merits of that list. My thoughts:

    I like the split graphic for Patrick Roy and Larry Walker’s 33. And as a fan of both players, I appreciate them both being represented. Considering the selectors made tough choices on several other numbers, though, it feels like a little bit of a cheat. If someone forced me choose between two of the Rocky Mountain region’s all-time favorite sports icons, I’d have to go with Roy. He’s considered one of the top three or four goalies to ever play the game and was the driving force behind two of the Avalanche’s Stanley Cup titles. Larry Walker won an MVP (something Roy didn’t do), but probably isn’t one of the top 5 right fielders of all time.

    The Colorado Rapids are woefully underrepresented on this list (to the tune of not being represented at all). I know that soccer doesn’t get as much attention as other sports on a national level – and that’s true in Denver, too. But the Rapids have a dedicated and loyal fanbase in Colorado and have also had some of the United States’ most accomplished players on the professional and international levels. They deserved at least one spot on this list. To wit:

    -Drew Moor at #3 over Allen Iverson. Iverson played only 135 games across parts of three seasons with the Nuggers. He’s a no-brainer for a Philadelphia list, but there are several #3s in Denver sports history that had longer careers and had more impact on their teams than Iverson did. Moor is second all-time in games played in Rapids history, a long-time team captain, a member of their 2010 MLS Cup championship team, and an All-Star in 2015.

    -Conor Casey at #9 over Vinny Castilla. Castilla is fondly remembered as one of the Rockies’ original “Blake Street Bombers” in the 1990s and early 2000s. But Casey is the Rapids all-time leading goal-scorers and was the driving force behind (and match MVP of) their MLS Cup championship in 2010.

    -Pablo Mastroeni at #25 over Chris Harris, Jr. I’d actually probably keep Harris in this spot based on a couple of All-Pro appearances and his key role in the “No Fly Zone” secondary that helped the Broncos win Super Bowl 50. But Mastroeni is the Rapids’ all-time leader in games started, games played, and minutes played, was a three-time team MVP, a seven-time All-Star, and member of their 2010 MLS Cup-winning team. In a list overwhelmed by Broncos, I wouldn’t have complained too mch if Mastroeni had been slotted in here.

    I don’t have many other quibbles. It’s hard to leave Carmelo Anthony off the list at #15, but considering what two-NBA MVP Nikola Jokic has accomplished in that number, the selecors made the right call. Besides, Carmelo made no secret of his desire to get out of Denver as quickly as he could, so he’s not nearly as well-loved in town as is Jokic.

    For Phoenix, Pat Tillman appears twice – 40 for Cards, 42 for Devils. I believe he’s the only player to appear twice?

    I definitely get wanting to honor Tillman, but definitely could have used 42 for Brittney Griner instead of double dipping

    42 would have been better represented with Connie Hawkins. The first Hall of Famer from any Arizona team.

    The Detroit Print needs some help. #33 Skipped G. Hill? He’s a legend here.

    #30 Skipped Ozzie (C. Osgood) or even Mags (M.Ordonaez)

    #3 Skipped The Fro? B.Wallace is a little more Recent than Trammel.

    I think you can make a legitimate case that Chris Osgood might be the most overrated hockey player of all time. He was an average goalie (which is well borne out by his individual stats) who happened to play for some amazing teams. In fact, I would say that he and Marc-Andre Fleury are the most prominent examples of the theory that you really don’t need a great goalie to win Stanley Cups.

    I think Detroit #2 should be Charlie Gehringer (19 seasons in Detroit, World Series title, MVP, Hall of Fame) vs. Slava Fetisov (legendary, 2 Stanley Cups, Hall of Fame, but only played 3-1/2 seasons in Detroit). At #5 all-time great Lidstrom still beats Hank Greenberg (HoF, 2 MVP, 2 WS titles).

    I initially laughed at the suggestion of Ben Wallace over Alan Trammell, but then I looked at his stats and they’re very comparable. Both Hall of Famers, both 4-time Defensive Player of the Year / 4-time Gold Glover, both have one championship. But Trammell was home-grown, playing all 19 of his seasons (and 3 forgettable seasons managing) and was World Series MVP (and formed the great duo with Lou Whitaker for almost 20 years), while Wallace came at the expense of Grant Hill (another fan favorite), and only played 9 of his 16 seasons in Detroit.

    Phoenix one includes UofA players which is decidedly NOT Phoenix. It lost me in the top row.

    unforgiveable sin.

    How is Denver’s #78 not Martin Truex Jr?
    He won over a dozen races and a Cup driving for that Denver-based team.
    Always liked the look of that car number when he drove it:


    Love Love Love the Detroit one in particular, only nit-pick I have would be to put Hank Greenberg at #5 over Nicklas Lidstrom (pains me to choose…)

    For Detroit, I think I’d take bill freehan over Isiah Thomas at number 11.
    I’d also take Norm Cash over Darren Mccarty at number 25.

    Maybe it’s just my hockey-fan bias, but I feel pretty strongly that Denver’s 33 should have been Roy alone. Patrick Roy is legitimately in the conversation for best goaltender of all time. I’m not as familiar with baseball, but I’m familiar enough that I think I can say with some confidence that Larry Walker isn’t in the conversation for best anything of all time.

    I was considering doing a Detroit one myself, and era-appropriate numbering was definitely the way I would have gone, though I still would’ve added NOBs to make it clear who’s who – straight block NOBs for the older Red Wings and the throwback Lions, for example. I don’t think I’d have tried so hard to alternate every color, but sure would’ve tried to mix it up a bit. I do appreciate that Marc included the original Michigan Panthers and the Detroit Shock.

    Don’t know why the Suns players like Steve Nash, Dick Van Arsdale and Walter Davis aren’t represented by the Phoenix jerseys they actually wore.

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