The Washington Wizards announced on Thursday morning that Phil Chenier’s number 45 will be retired by the team on March 23, when the Wizards host the Denver Nuggets.
Here’s what Chenier had to say about the announcement, via the team’s press release:
“I am so proud to have the honor and blessing of my #45 hanging with the greats of this franchise. It’s a statement to my teammates, coaches and all those who have sacrificed, supported and guided me over the many years that says ‘job well done.’ I also share it with the fans who have approached me with kind words and fond memories from both my playing days and my broadcasting career. My whole family is so grateful to Ted Leonsis, the MSE ownership group and the entire organization (from staff to players) who have been so kind, thoughtful and reverent towards me. I would also like to thank the Pollins, who brought me in to this organization 46 years ago, and the many people involved with the team during my early days. I’m so appreciative of each and every experience I’ve had here and can’t wait to share this honor with my DC Family in March.”
Most fans probably know Chenier best as the Wizards’ color commentator, a role he filled for over 30 seasons, but he was also an exceptional player with the franchise. He averaged 17.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game during his 9 seasons with the team and earned three All-Star appearances. He was a frequent recipient of Unseld’s outlet passes, and his stellar outside shooting was critical to freeing up room for Unseld and Hayes to dominate the paint.
Chenier is only the fifth player in franchise history to have his number retired by the team. He joins Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes, Gus Johnson, and Earl Monroe who have received the honor.
Though Chenier doesn’t have the Hall of Fame credentials of the other four players on the list, but there’s no question he’s earned this honor. On a franchise where so many of the team’s legends are tarnished by spending large amounts of their careers with other teams, Chenier is one of the rare ones Wizards fans can claim exclusively as their own.