Wisconsin has quietly built up quite the history of great professional athletes. Between the Bucks, Brewers, and Green Bay Packers, a plethora of high-profile athletes have spent any number of years in the great state of Wisconsin. In this series, we will take a look at the best players to wear each jersey number. In this edition, we are looking at the best all-time Wisconsin players who wore numbers 31 through 35.
Number 31- Jim Taylor: Green Bay Packers (1958-1966)
Prior to Ahman Green, the Packers’ all-time leading rusher was Hall of Famer Jim Taylor. The legendary Packer was selected by the Packers in the second round of the 1958 draft. He went on to play nine seasons with Green Bay, winning five championships, was selected to five Pro Bowls, and made one All Pro Team.
The best stretch of Taylor’s career took place between 1960-1964. Taylor rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of those seasons, leading the league in rushing in 1962. That 1962 season was the best of Taylor’s legendary career. As mentioned, he led the league in rushing with 1,474 yards. In addition, he led the league in rushing touchdowns (19); rushing attempts (272); rushing yards per game (105.3); and total yards from scrimmage (1,580).
Jim Taylor retired following the 1967 season, a season which he spent with the New Orleans Saints. For their part, the Saints have retired Taylor’s number 31. For his Packers career, Taylor finished with 8,207 rushing yards and 81 rushing touchdowns. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1976.
Honorable Mention: No other number 31 comes close to Taylor, but Dave Bush (Brewers) wore 31.
Number 32- Brian Winters: Milwaukee Bucks (1975-1983)
Brian Winters was a key player that the Lakers sent to the Bucks in return for Kareem Abdul Jabbar. He is also the only Bucks player to have worn the number 32. Few remember just how good Winters was, but the man was a born-shooter. Had the three-point line come into existence earlier, his career numbers would have been much higher. Here is an example of Winters’ sharpshooting:
When Jon McGlocklin retired, the Bucks feared they would miss his shooting abilities. Brian Winters, however, proved to be such a good shooter that the Bucks did not skip a beat in that aspect of their game. Winters is, by many, regarded as one of the best all-time shooters in team history.
Overall, Winters played eight seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks. He averaged 16.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists over the course of his Bucks’ career. During his time in Milwaukee, Winters made two All-Star teams. His best season was the 1977-78 season, in which he averaged 19.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists. The Bucks’ made Winters the third Bucks’ player to have his number retired on October 28, 1983.
Honorable Mention: Jeremy Jeffress
Number 33- Kareem Abdul Jabbar: Milwaukee Bucks (1969-1975)
Kareem Abdul Jabbar has a legitimate argument for being the best all-time Bucks’ player. After being selected with the first overall pick in the 1969 NBA Draft, Jabbar went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award, make six All-Star teams, and win three MVP Awards as a member of the Bucks. In 1970-71, he helped lead the Bucks to their only NBA title to date.
While playing for the Bucks, Kareem Abdul Jabbar was an absolute force. He led the league in scoring two years in a row in 1970 and 1971. In six seasons in Milwaukee, Jabbar averaged 30.4 points and 15.3 rebounds. He also accumulated per game averages of 4.3 assists, 3.4 blocks, and 1.2 steals.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar asked the Bucks for a trade because he did not feel that the Midwest was fulfilling his cultural needs. The Bucks traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom Jabbar would play for 14 years and become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. In return, the Bucks received Brian Winters, Elmore Smith, Dave Meyers, and Junior Bridgeman.
Honorable Mention: Fun fact- Ray Nitschke wore number 33 in 1958
Number 34- Giannis Antetokounmpo: Milwaukee Bucks (2013-Present)
When the Milwaukee Bucks drafted Giannis with the 15th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, few knew just how good of a player they would be getting. He was just 19 years old and raw in terms of basketball talent. Over the years, though, his work ethic and growth improved his production on the court. So impressive was his work ethic, that NBA legends Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett spent time in the off-season to work with Giannis.
Giannis has now played in seven NBA seasons and has improved his scoring average each year. In 2019, Giannis averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists en route to his first career MVP Award. He led the Bucks to a league-best 60 wins and an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals.
This year, Giannis currently holds averages of 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists. He is believed by many to be the front-runner for both the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Award. The Bucks have the league’s best record at 53-12 and are looking to continue their dominance when play resumes. If Giannis continues his progress, there is no reason why he will not be the all-time greatest Bucks’ player.
Honorable Mention: Ray Allen (Bucks); Rollie Fingers (Brewers)
Note: I mentioned in previous editions that athletes whose numbers are retired usually make this list. Rollie Fingers is the exception here because Giannis will, undoubtedly, receive a similar honor by the Bucks and has played for Milwaukee long than Rollie was with the Brewers.
Number 35- Bill Castro: Milwaukee Brewers (1974-1980)
Bill Castro is one of the most underrated Brewers in team history. Solid and dependable, he filled in innings long before pitchers were assigned roles out of the bullpen. In seven seasons with the Brewers, he had a sub-three ERA four times.
Castro was signed by the Brewers as an amateur free agent in 1970. He made his Major League debut in 1974, pitching in eight games with a 4.50 ERA. The next year, he appeared in 18 games, five of them starts, and earned his first career win and his first career save. He finished 1975 with a 3-2 record, one save, and a 2.52 ERA.
Castro’s best season was the 1978 season, when he went 5-4 with a 1.81 ERA in 42 games. He only had 17 strikeouts, but he also only had 14 walks. Castro finished his time in Milwaukee 25-23 record, 44 saves, and 253 appearances. His 2.96 ERA as a Brewer is one of the best in team history.
MORE IN THE SERIES
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