Should the Celtics unretire numbers for current players to wear? – Boston Globe
Comments PrintWinslow Townson for The Boston Globe
It’s slim pickings for new Celtics and jersey numbers.
When the Celtics’ five offseason signees were introduced last week in Waltham, a recurring theme was their choice of uniform numbers. Selecting uniform numbers in Boston has become an increasingly pertinent issue for an organization with 21 retired numbers.
Amir Johnson chose No. 90, Perry Jones will wear 38, and David Lee got lucky because one of his former numbers (42) was available.
The alarming number of retired jerseys has forced new players to scramble for new numeric identities. A few years ago, Jason Collins wore No. 98 at training camp and Darko Milicic donned 99.
Jae Crowder wore 99 when he was acquired from the Mavericks last December, and has stuck with that football-style number. Johnson is wearing 90 since the No. 15 he wore with the Raptors is retired in Boston (Tom Heinsohn).
The retired numbers are a growing issue, although many new Celtics won’t admit that. Many of those considered to be prime numbers — 1, 2, 3, 10, 21, 22, 23, 32, 33 — are retired, leaving some of the Celtics to look like cornerbacks — rookie R.J. Hunter is wearing 28 — or defensive linemen such as Johnson and Crowder.
Should the Celtics consider revising their retired-jersey policy to allow current players to wear some of the untouchable numbers, while maintaining tradition?
Other sports organizations have created rings of honor or other ways to laud former players without retiring numbers. Or they have allowed players to wear numbers that had been retired.
While some numbers should not be touched — Bill Russell (6), Bob Cousy (14), John Havlicek (17), Larry Bird (33) — the Celtics may want to consider allowing players to wear numbers of players considered Celtic greats but perhaps not all-time greats. The Celtics are a victim of their own success, as are the Lakers, who have also racked up retired numbers at a rapid rate.
Johnson said he considered wearing No. 5 but that is expected to be iced until Kevin Garnett retires and the number goes with him. Paul Pierce’s No. 34 is a cinch to be retired whenever he is finished playing.
Jim Davis/Globe Staff/File 2007
It’s not that the lack of desirable numbers makes the Celtics a less-desirable free agent destination, but a feature of playing for a new team is wearing a number a player is comfortable with.
And the Celtics are running short, so the …Read More