Exploring the numerology of Blues basketball

Throughout the modern era of sports, numbers have helped fans to identify athletes, officials to penalize them, and scorekeepers to record their stats. However, some numbers have outgrown this simple paradigm and have become iconic identifiers of the legends who wore them. Wayne Gretzky had his 99, preferably in Oilers blue and orange, Michael Jordan sported a 23 on his blood red Chicago Bulls jersey, and Brett Favre will seemingly never give up his number 4, regardless of the colour jersey it’s on.

Despite their popularity, many people don’t know the stories behind these numbers, or why a seemingly random number was given the glory of being associated with our sports legends. If you dig a little deeper, however, the meaning behind a player’s number often carries a special significance or symbolism. Michael Jordan, for one, chose to wear 23 because it was half that of his brother’s high school number 45, his aspiration to be at least half the player his older sibling was. On the other hand, a number can mean absolutely nothing at all. The choices of the Blues basketball players are the same, some reflecting careful symbolism and others showing an utter disregard for such trivialities. Here are some of the stories behind the numbers.

#15 Sean Ashkenazy
“I moved to Canada from Israel. I lived in Israel until I was ten years old. Throughout my early childhood I played for a junior team called Maccabi Tel Aviv. It’s where a lot of NBA guys, like Anthony Parker of the Raptors [now the Cavaliers], have come from recently. I played for their junior team; it’s where I got my love for basketball. Throughout my years with the junior team, I always wore 15. I remember I still have sweatpants and a hoodie from back then with 15 on it so it kind of means a lot to me.”

#8 Lauren Van Dolah
“I started wearing number 8 when I turned 8 in 1997. It’s Kobe Bryant’s number [Was Kobe Bryant’s number. -Ed]. It’s also my older cousin’s number who is a two-time national title winner. It’s kind of in the family and it’s been my number four times.”

#5 Glenn Gravengaard
“Originally I wore 13, but this year I couldn’t take it because someone else took it. 13 is usually the number I take to remember a bible verse: first Corinthians 13. This year I took five because it’s my favourite NBA player’s number, Jason Kidd.”

#7 Monica Starczynowski
“It was my brother’s number. He played basketball and he wore 7 throughout high school. I don’t really know why, I just took seven. Now I have two apartments, both number seven, and I have seven on my license plate.

#14 Mac Fairbairn
“I used to be 23. I was 23 throughout high school, because no one wants 23. I was the youngest person on the team, so I had to be 23. But when I got here, in my third year, I changed it because my last year in Saskatchewan a good friend and teammate passed away from testicular cancer and he was number 14. So this year, I wear 14 in his memory. He originally wore 14 because that’s how many people were in his family, there were 5. His original number was 5, but then he couldn’t get 5, so he took 14, because 1 plus 4 makes 5.”
#10 Lukas Wera
“It doesn’t matter what shoes or what number you wear, it matters what you do with it.”

#22 Tasha Lorenzen
“When I was two years old I bounced my first basketball, and when my dad was twenty-two it was the first time he dunked a basketball and... he was in the twenty-second division of the air force. And when I was two, again, I said Kobe. Was he playing basketball then? No, it was Jordan. My first word was Jordan. When I was two. And when I play I tap my shoulder twenty-two times.”
#7 Eddie Fan
“Number 7 is the number of my house, so its just always been number 7.”

#9 Mike Zayonc
“I chose number 9 because it was one of the last numbers left. I didn’t really care what number I got. I was a different number every year of my basketball career. I’ve had 50, 13, 14, and 23 at Argyle, and 11 and 9 at Capilano. I can’t pick a favourite number because I keep switching them.”

#21 Sinclair Brown
“I chose to be number 21 because of my hero, Jonathon Duckles, a basketball player who went down to the States on a baseball scholarship. I was number fifteen in high school because I couldn’t be number 21, and it was the next coolest number.”
#12 Jess Franz
“It was a bigger jersey number and I was a big kid back in the day. They wouldn’t let me have the little numbers. I wanted a little number so bad and they wouldn’t let me have it. My dream number is a three, in size and in number.”

#8 Swaroop “Roopi” Clair
“I’m number 8 this year but my favourite number is 3. It was the number I was given at Five Star [a high profile American basketball camp]. I got an MVP chant that game, and I was close to getting MVP twice there. That was the number that was given to me at camp, so I just like the number. If I could get a number with three in it, I’d take that. But eight is still two to the power of three.”
#13 Kristin Leigh
“I wear 13 because when I look down and see my number it reminds me of Quinn [Handsworth basketball star and Capilano basketball recruit Quinn Keast, who passed away in 2006] and all the things he represented. It makes me play harder and play with no regrets. In high school I was number 4 but I had no choice because I was a grade ten on the senior team. 5 was always my favourite number, I don’t know why, maybe because [my older brother] Digby wore it. It’s always a small size so it fits me. Number 13 fits me like a dress but I still wear it. You can’t even see my body underneath it. It’s like a parachute.”

// Colin May and Mac Fairbairn,
two guys

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