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From Isiah Thomas and Paul Arizin on the hardwood to Larry Fitzgerald and Julio Jones on the gridiron, many of the best athletes of all time have thrown on the number 11 jersey.

But only so many can earn love here.

For our list of the 10 best to ever wear a number 11 jersey, presented alphabetically by first name, we highlighted their professional careers only while donning the double ones. These athletes were selected based on their accolades, statistical accomplishments, and talent while wearing a number 11 jersey.

Barry Larkin

Barry Larkin was a crucial player for the Cincinnati Reds’ 1990 World Series team. Known for his remarkable skills both in the field and at the plate, he showcased his defensive and offensive prowess throughout his career, wearing the number 11 jersey for 17 of his 19 seasons with the Reds.

He was selected to 12 All-Star games, was a three-time Gold Glove Award winner, and was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1995.

Bob McAdoo

Bob McAdoo was a two-time NBA champion, a five-time All-Star, and the 1974-75 NBA MVP. Before Isiah Thomas joined the Detroit Pistons, the big man was the last player to wear the iconic jersey number in the Motor City.

The Hall of Famer also wore the number 11 jersey for the Buffalo Braves, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Philadelphia 76ers. During his first stop, which came with the franchise that would later become the Los Angeles Clippers, he led the league in scoring for three straight seasons from 1973-74 through 1975-76.

Elena Delle Donne

Elena Delle Donne has long been a prominent figure in the WNBA, dating back to when the Chicago Sky made her the No. 2 overall pick of the 2013 draft. While donning the number 11 jersey, she earned WNBA MVP honors twice (2015 and 2019) and led the Washington Mystics to a championship in 2019.

The 6-foot-5 superstar also won Olympic gold with Team USA and has made seven WNBA All-Star squads. She’s never worn a different number in professional competition.

Elvin Hayes

Elvin Hayes wore the number 11 jersey with the Baltimore Bullets, Capital Bullets, and Washington Bullets. The 12-time All-Star helped his squad win an NBA championship in 1977-78, averaging 19.7 points and 13.3 rebounds during the regular season before exploding for 21.8 points and 13.3 boards per game in the postseason.

Hayes won two rebounding titles, was always among the Association’s elite defensive bigs, and made both the 75th Anniversary Team and the Hall of Fame as a reward for his all-around ability in the paint.

Isiah Thomas

Isiah Thomas took over the number 11 jersey mantle from Bob McAdoo and then cemented it in Detroit Pistons lore. He led his team to two consecutive NBA titles and was named Finals MVP in 1990.

The point guard was known for his defensive intensity, his gritty play on both ends of the floor, and his passing prowess, making him a formidable foe for Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. With 12 All-Star appearances, five All-NBA selections, and all sorts of other accolades, he remains a legend of the sport.

Julio Jones

Known for his catching ability and speed, both in routes and after securing the football, Julio Jones served as one of the NFL’s most formidable wide receivers during his prime years with the Atlanta Falcons.

The Alabama product made seven Pro Bowls and earned two All-Pro selections, coming within striking distance of the single-season receiving record when he led the league with 136 catches for 1,871 yards during the 2015 campaign.

Larry Fitzgerald

Larry Fitzgerald was one of the most legendary and highest-paid wide receivers of all time. He spent his entire career wearing the number 11 jersey for the Arizona Cardinals, tormenting defensive backs with his perfectly executed routes and sure hands.

The 11-time Pro Bowler retired in 2020 with 17,492 career receiving yards (behind only Jerry Rice) and 121 career touchdowns (behind only Rice, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Cris Carter, and Marvin Harrison).

Mark Messier

A member of the Hall of Fame and 100th Anniversary Team who racked up five All-Star appearances, six Stanley Cup championships, and numerous individual accolades, Mark Messier wore no number but 11 throughout his time in the NHL.

One of those Cup victories helped end the New York Rangers’ five-decade title drought and played a key part in the organization’s decision to retire his jersey. The Edmonton Oilers gave him a similar honor, as well, making him one of nine players to receive that retirement ceremony for multiple franchises.

Paul Arizin

Though he’s since fallen down the leaderboard, Paul Arizin retired with the No. 3 point total in NBA history after his stellar career with the Philadelphia Warriors. His Hall of Fame inclusion, 10 All-Star appearances, two scoring titles, and career averages of 22.8 points and 8.6 rebounds only tell part of the story, too.

Arizin was one of the early adopters of the jump shot (more of a line drive than the high-arcing shots proliferating today’s league) and paved the way for numerous high-scoring forwards throughout the early years of the Association.

Romario

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Romario is considered one of the greatest soccer players of all time and was known for his clinical finishing. He suited up for his national team, Brazil, in the 1994 FIFA World Cup and played a key role in helping win the tournament. His prowess helped him earn a Golden Ball and a FIFA World Player of the Year award.

The incumbent senator for Rio de Janeiro wore the number 11 jersey for all but one of his years with the national team and donned it for the second half of his club career, though not with PSV Eindhoven while establishing himself as a true force on the pitch.

Best athletes to wear a number 11 jersey: honorable mentions

We considered so many great athletes who’ve worn a number 11 jersey. The following didn’t quite make it on our top-10 list, but they’re worth mentioning due to their incredible talent and prolific careers. More will join them as new talents distinguish themselves.

  • Alexia Putellas
  • Alex Smith
  • Angel di Maria
  • Anze Kopitar
  • Arvydas Sabonis
  • Bill Quackenbush
  • Carl Hubbell
  • Daniel Alfredsson
  • Danny White
  • Daunte Culpepper
  • David Legwand
  • Detlef Schrempf
  • Didier Drogba
  • Drew Bledsoe
  • Edgar Martinez
  • Francisco Gento
  • Gareth Bale
  • Gilbert Perrault
  • Greg Landry
  • Harry Gallatin
  • Jamal Crawford
  • Jimmy Rollins
  • Jose Ramirez
  • Jrue Holiday
  • Julian Edelman
  • Klay Thompson
  • Luis Aparicio
  • Marco Reus
  • Micah Parsons
  • Mike Conley
  • Mike Gartner
  • Miroslav Klose
  • Mohamed Salah
  • Phil Simms
  • Rivaldo
  • Ryan Giggs
  • Teresa Weatherspoon
  • Toby Harrah
  • Trae Young
  • Vernon Maxwell
  • Yao Ming
  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Stats courtesy of Basketball ReferencePro Football ReferenceTransfermarktBaseball Reference, and Hockey Reference