It has been a long while since we hit a number worn by multiple good players for multiple good seasons in New Orleans Pelicans history. Luckily that run finally ends with the number 21, thanks to a hardworking big man who got the number off to a nice start and a second round point guard who picked it up seven years later and put in hard work to have a very good two season run in New Orleans more recently.
The First to Wear Number 21: Jamaal Magloire, 2002-2005
The Most Recent to Wear Number 21: Arinze Onuaku, 2013
Throughout his NBA career Jamaal Magloire was known for being a tough, rugged big man who backed down from no one. That reputation started early in his career with the Hornets and by the time Magloire hit New Orleans with the team he had settled into a role as a player no one wanted to mess with. In his first two seasons in New Orleans, Magloire played in all 164 games totaling over 5,000 minutes over that time for two playoff bound Hornets teams. His finest season came in 2003-2004 when he averaged 13.6 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks and was named an All-Star for the first and only time in his career. That All-Star appearance made Magloire just the second Canadian player in NBA history to make the All-Star game and the second All-Star selection in franchise history after Jamaal Mashburn in 2002-2003 (Baron Davis made the game with Magloire.) Magloire’s final season in New Orleans didn’t go as well as his first two as injuries caused him to miss 59 games before being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in October of 2005.
After Magloire left Marcus Fizer got a three game stint in the number 21 late in the 2005-2006 season. In those three games, all losses, Fizer did not a lot of anything, scoring 20 points in 39 combined minutes for the Hornets before moving on in the offseason.
The 2011-2012 season brought the number 21 back to New Orleans when Greivis Vasquez was given the number after being acquired in a trade from the Memphis Grizzlies. Vasquez had a fine first season in New Orleans, averaging 8.9 points and 5.4 assists in 66 games off the bench for the Hornets. The next season though would be the one where Vasquez really shined, as he took advantage of the opening at point guard to start in 77 games and lead the NBA in total assists with 704. Yet struggles on defense convinced the franchise to move on from Vasquez and he was sent away in a trade during the summer to help the Pelicans acquire Tyreke Evans and Jeff Withey.
With Vasquez’s departure the number 21 opened up again and was claimed for seven games by Arinze Onuaku, an undrafted player from the University of Syracuse. In those seven games Onuaku did what Onuaku does, rebound and not a whole lot else. Onuaku played just six minutes per game over his time with the Pelicans but was able to average almost two rebounds a game in that time thanks to being a massive individual. Yet the Pelicans were never sold and Onuaku was assigned to the D-League from where he later signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Unlike many numbers in franchise history the number 21 has plenty of good moments in its New Orleans history. Between Magloire’s All-Star appearance and Vasquez’s league leading assist total there is an argument to be made that the number 21 is one of the top five numbers in New Orleans history based on just two seasons of play.
Tags: New Orleans Pelicans