Twitter/James Worthy

James Worthy

In Chapel Hill, James Worthy is synonymous with No. 52. He led North Carolina to a national championship, earned Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors and was a consensus first-team All-American in that number.

But when Worthy was drafted No. 1 by the Lakers in 1982, he had to pick new digits.

"Jamaal Wilkes wore 52 with the Lakers, so I couldn't get 52," Worthy remembers. "My dad and I were having a conversation about what number to choose, and he said, 'Hey, what about Jackie Robinson, 42?' So, that's how I came to that number. My father was a huge Jackie Robinson fan, so that's why I chose No. 42."

After a 12-year career that featured three NBA titles, an NBA Finals MVP and being selected All-NBA Rookie first team, Worthy's No. 42 now hangs in Staples Center (along with Wilkes' No. 52).

"My dad was a big baseball fan and so was my grandfather," Worthy told Fox Sports in 2013. "They had always told me stories about the old players and the old Negro Leagues, about Satchel Paige and some of the great players."

Worthy is now a studio analyst for the Lakers' TV affiliate, Spectrum SportsNet, but he will be out of studio in Memphis on Monday. The Lakers are at the Grizzlies and Worthy is being honored as part of the 16th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Game.

Before tipoff, Worthy, Swin Cash, Penny Hardaway and Sam Perkins will be honored with the National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award for their dedicated contributions to civil and human rights and for laying the foundation for future leaders through their career in sports in the spirit of Dr. King.

"It's special to be honored in Martin Luther King's name and all that he stood for: Justice, peace, equality for all people, diversity, hope, passion, compassion and being a good humanitarian," Worthy says. "All of the things that we try to stand for every day, so to be honored for showing that attitude over the course of career, whether it's philanthropy work or whatever it may be, it's an honor to represent the Lakers and the NBA in Memphis. We are going on a tour of the museums that I haven't seen yet and it will be a special occasion that I'm honored to be a part of."

Worthhy spoke to ThePostGame on behalf of the NBA, promoting All-Star Game voting, which ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on Jan. 15. Worthy was a seven-time All-Star.

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