As Kobe Bryant case highlights, number retirement a sticky issue

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As Kobe Bryant case highlights, number retirement a sticky issue

Post by bobheckler on Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:41 pm

http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/celtics/2017/11/bulpett_as_kobe_bryant_case_highlights_number_retirement_a_sticky_issue




Bulpett: As Kobe Bryant case highlights, number retirement a sticky issue







Steve Bulpett Sunday, November 26, 2017








Credit: The Associated Press

FILE - In this March 28, 2016, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) walks onto the court during the team's NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. The Lakers announced Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, that they will retire Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 in a ceremony Dec. 18 during their game against Golden State. Bryant wore No. 8 from 1996 to 2006, when he switched to No. 24 for the remainder of his 20-year career with the Lakers. He will be the 10th player honored by the Lakers with a jersey retirement, and the first to have two retired numbers. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)





There was much discussion and debate in the wake of the Lakers’ decision to retire both 8 and 24 for Kobe Bryant, and it is certain to spark up again as next month’s ceremony approaches. Some believe the club should pick just one of the numbers he wore. Some joke it should reduce the 8/24 to an equivalent fraction (1⁄3).


And while most Celtics fans came to appreciate Bryant and his respect for the franchise here, lingering Kobe detractors may want to retire the 6-for-24 he shot from the floor in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals.

Personally, I’d have no trouble choosing between 8 and 24 or both for Bryant — because I wouldn’t choose at all.


It is my long held opinion that, with the exception of baseball taking No. 42 out of service to honor Jackie Robinson (and to note the ignorant foolishness of African-Americans not being allowed to play all along), no team in any sport should retire a number. Rather, I’d keep the numbers available and have the names of chosen players stitched onto a banner or placed in a ring of honor around the stadium or arena.


The three Celtics banners with spaces for eight honorees apiece hang above the parquet floor in iconic fashion, but too much gets lost when you move away from the most famed of the 21 numbers. Better, I think, that Ed Macauley’s name should grace the Garden, rather than his 22. Let young fans see the unfamiliar moniker and Google him to learn of his accomplishments. I’d be willing to wager more fans search “Loscy,” the lone name on a banner, to find out about Jim Loscutoff than check out No. 21 to learn all that Bill Sharman meant to the NBA as both a player and coach.


And while teams can be a little choosy with who gets some of the more revered numbers, wouldn’t it be great to see Marcus Smart continuing the tradition of backcourt defensive greatness by wearing KC Jones’ 25 or Dennis Johnson’s 3? How fitting would it be for a national TV announcer to name-check KC or DJ when Smart makes a steal in the conference finals?


That would be an honor that keeps players’ names alive for ensuing generations.


In a more practical sense, under the current system there is the dwindling stock of numbers to assign. We already have a date for Paul Pierce’s 34 to head to the ceiling, and Kevin Garnett’s 5 will assuredly follow. And what if Kyrie Irving, Al Horford and Gordon Hayward lead the Celtics to two or three championships in the next several years?


Will the C’s have a starting five wearing football lineman numbers in 2030?
I’d be in favor of a series of number un-retiring ceremonies that could last for days — as in Bill Russell Week, etc. And if, say, Irving had wished to wear No. 14, we could have Bob Cousy hand him the jersey. It would be a nice torch-passing moment and a photo that would hang on walls all over New England and beyond to mark the connection of the past to the future that helps define this franchise in a way few other clubs in any sport can match.


As for Kobe, raise a glass in toast and raise his name to the upper reaches of Staples Center. But his number(s)?


This week’s Celtics timeline


Tomorrow, vs. Detroit, 7:30 p.m. — Avery Bradley makes his return to the Garden. After seven years with the Celts, he was dealt with a second round pick for Marcus Morris in a move that has worked out well for both clubs. In addition to his well-chronicled defense, Bradley is second on the Pistons in scoring and has provided needed veteran leadership.


Thursday, vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. — The C’s welcome the Products of the Process to town, and there is actually anticipation for a Boston-Philly matchup again. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have become must-see talents.


Saturday, vs. Phoenix, 1 p.m. — The Celts play just three Saturday home games this season, and this is the only one in the afternoon. The Suns won four of their next five after an 0-3 start and general unrest got Earl Watson fired, but things have settled back since then. The last time they were in Boston (March 24th), Devin Booker went for 70 points — albeit in a game the Celtics led by as many as 28 and won by 10.




DOERR’S INFLUENCE RECALLED, VALUED BY AINGE


With the passing of Red Sox legend Bobby Doerr 13 days ago, we go back to a piece we wrote for the program when the New England Sports Museum honored Danny Ainge at The Tradition in 2015.


Ainge had committed to staying in baseball with the Blue Jays even after being named college basketball’s Player of the Year in 1981. Then the Celtics drafted him in the second round and he had second thoughts. The problem is he had grown close to then-Toronto hitting coach Doerr, who lived near Ainge’s hometown of Eugene, Oregon.


“Pat Gillick was our general manager, and I felt very close to Pat and to Bobby,” Ainge said for the story. “Both of them came to my house, and we had a discussion with my wife. They were trying to convince me to stay and play baseball and saying that I had a great future.



“That was a hard thing to tell them, because Bobby had invested a lot of time into me and my future. I’ll always be grateful to him. His wife was ill at the time, and so Bobby would sort of be on two weeks and off two weeks. And when he would come back and someone had been messing with my AINGE swing, he was just livid. He was great.


“Ideally what I wanted to do was take one year and try the NBA. See, I didn’t love the NBA as a kid coming out of college, and that’s why I signed a baseball contract. Baseball to me was bigger and better, and you could have a longer career. But I did love the Celtics and the Lakers. I wasn’t really that excited about most of the other teams in the NBA at that time. Major league baseball was more appealing to me.”



bob



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