If Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have their numbers retired as expected once their days in green are finished, however, the Celtics will have 23 numbers unavailable between zero and 35. Pretty soon, new Celtics players may need to don fractions.
Although it may be useless to close the stable door after the horse is out, the Celtics may need to consider tightening their standards for retired numbers. After all, the collection of numerical retirees already includes two men who never even played in the NBA.
Up to now, any player who A) contributed significantly to multiple titles in Boston or B) played the bulk of a Hall of Fame career in green could count on having his number hanging from the rafters at the Garden. A few players have managed to grace the banners without such illustrious careers. Satch Sanders, Jim Loscutoff, Don Nelson, Jo Jo White and Cedric Maxwell did not make the Hall of Fame as players, and it is unlikely Reggie Lewis would have made it, either. Dennis Johnson had his number retired in 1991, well before he reached Springfield posthumously in 2010.
The Celtics’ number situation has not quite reached New York Yankees proportions — once Derek Jeter‘s No. 2 and, presumably, Joe Torre‘s No. 6 are retired, every number between one and 10 will be out of commission in the Bronx — but it may not be long before a bunch of guys take the court at the TD Garden wearing No. 59 or No. 71.
Should the Celtics establish higher standards for retired numbers? If so, what should those new standards be? Share your proposal in the comments section below.