BOSTON — Danny Ainge might not have been able to crack the banners of retired numbers for the Boston Celtics based off his playing career alone, but he could one day see his number hang alongside those of former teammates like Larry Bird and Kevin McHale.
Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said Saturday that he is interested in retiring Ainge’s number. Speaking as part of a panel of sports owners at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Grousbeck said the honor would recognize Ainge for the extent of his contributions to the franchise, as a player and as an executive.
“I plan to put his number in the rafters one day for all he’s done,” Grousbeck said. “He’s not going to accept that, but …”
Ainge joined the Celtics’ front office in 2003, guiding the organization through a rebuilding year in 2006-07 that led to the team’s 17th NBA championship in 2008. Last summer, Ainge traded franchise icons Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in a move Grousbeck and the rest of the ownership team endorsed.
“As sort of a trustee for the fans, I knew I had to take that offer last June,” Grousbeck said. “It didn’t quite break my heart, but it was tough.”
Ainge played for four teams in 14 seasons, including eight with the Celtics. He was an All-Star in 1988 and won rings with Boston in 1984 and 1986.