Best Chicago Pro Athlete Whose Number Isn't Retired

Norm Van Lier

Critics' Picks

A basketball player is usually judged by his numbers—points, rebounds, assists. But stats don't tell the full story. In the 1970s, long before Michael Jordan came to town, Stormin' Norman Van Lier was the heart and soul of a Bulls team that overachieved, despite never having won a championship. Just a shade over six feet and 170 pounds, Van Lier dove relentlessly for loose balls, battled for rebounds, banged his way to the hoop. He played for ten seasons, seven with the Bulls, before retiring in 1979. It's too late for the Bulls to let Van Lier know how much he was appreciated; he died in 2009. But the team should retire his number 2 jersey anyway, and let it hang from the rafters alongside Jordan's, Scottie Pippen's, and the other Bulls greats.