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The #Miami Heat have retired four numbers in their franchise history, but only three have actually played for the franchise. This isn't a situation like Jackie Robinson and the MLB, where the legendary civil rights icon's jersey is retired across the league. But for whatever reason, the Heat retired #Michael Jordan's number almost 15 years ago. In fact, his number was the first to go up in the rafters among the list of players who actually played minutes for the organization.

Jordan's number in the rafters

The date was April 11, 2003. Jordan was suiting up for one of the final games of his career, playing out the twilight days with the Washington Wizards.

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The team was taking a trip to Miami, where one of Jordan's biggest adversaries off the court, Pat Riley, was running the organization and concluding his own coaching career. Riley decided to retire his opponent's number that night, in honor of the legendary career he had put together as one of the best in the history of the sport.

This was not a prank. Jordan was clearly emotional during the ceremony as Riley sang his praises. There were a couple of factors that made the moment even stranger. For starters, it was clearly a show of respect, but it would have made sense coming from a team such as the Detroit Pistons, who were Jordan's biggest rivals in the playoffs during his days with the Chicago Bulls. Additionally, he was an active player and opponent - he still had a game to play! The Heat would wind up losing that game, 91-87.

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Heat retiring numbers

Jordan's strange retirement jersey in Miami opened the floodgates for the franchise. Since then, Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, and even Shaquille O'Neal have seen their numbers raised to the rafters. Next, to Jordan's jersey - which is some sort of half-Bulls, half-Wizards monstrosity - they look fitting.

Jordan's jersey in the rafters is especially pertinent now because it may be joined by another soon. While there was some animosity towards the end, the Heat have suggested that they will retire Chris Bosh's number at a future date. Bosh hasn't retired from the #NBA yet, so that might not come this year. But one day, his #1 will grace the rafters. If it were to happen this season, the team should wait until a day when the Charlotte Hornets come to town; that way, Jordan will be able to witness another number go up next to the one that probably doesn't belong there anymore, despite the nice sentiment.