The Boston Celtics’ rich basketball tradition has one downside: It’s difficult for new players to find a number that’s not already hanging in the rafters.
But it appears a special exception could be made if Kevin Durant comes to town.
The Oklahoma City Thunder forward and soon-to-be free agent has worn No. 35 his entire career. That number, of course, belonged to Reggie Lewis, the Celtics’ first-round draft pick in 1987 who tragically died in 1993 at the age of 27.
Boston retired his number two years later, so it stands to reason Durant would pick out another number if he chose Boston. But in an interview with Kevin O’Connor for CSN New England, Lewis’ mother, Inez Ritch, responded positively to the idea of Durant wearing No. 35 for the Celtics as a tribute to her son.
“I don?t think it would take anything from Reggie because his number is still hanging up in the Garden,” Ritch told O’Connor, via CSNNE.com. “If I see Durant running up and down the court with the No. 35, I don?t know how my emotions would be until it happens.
“I don?t think I would be upset about it. I think it would be a good thing because he is a very nice, humble young man. I don?t know a lot about him, but I know of some of the things he has achieved while wearing the No. 35.”
As O’Connor points out, Durant shares some resemblance to Lewis, a lanky, athletic forward who can score in a number of different ways. And teams have unretired numbers before, most recently when the San Antonio Spurs gave Bruce Bowen’s No. 12 to LaMarcus Aldridge.
A uniform number obviously isn’t a dealbreaker, but the thought of honoring a player like Lewis while keeping No. 35 could be enticing to Durant as he mulls his many options in free agency.
Thumbnail photo via Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports Images