How Danny Ainge Feels About Kemba Walker Considering Number Change

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January 30, 2020

Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker indicated earlier this week he was considering changing his No. 8 to honor Kobe Bryant, who died Sunday in a tragic helicopter crash that also killed the NBA legend’s daughter, Gianna, and seven others.

On Thursday, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge weighed in on the subject during his weekly radio appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich.”

“I think Kemba has a tough decision. There seems to be a little bit of pressure on him that some players have changed their numbers,” Ainge said. “But personally, I think Kobe would be honored, and Kobe’s wife and family would be honored, of Kemba Walker wearing Kobe’s jersey and remaining to wear that jersey. So anyway, I don’t really have a strong opinion one way or the other, but I prefer to honor people with the lives you live and not necessarily with ceremonies.”

Several players have exchanged their No. 8 or No. 24 jerseys for new digits in wake of Bryant’s death. The Dallas Mavericks even announced plans to retire No. 24 — the number Bryant wore during his final 10 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers — and it’s fair to wonder whether more organizations will follow suit.

Ainge isn’t sure whether the Celtics will raise No. 8 to the rafters — No. 24 already is retired in honor of Sam Jones — but it’s clear he prefers to honor past players, including those who’ve died, in other ways.

“That’s (Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck’s) call. Personally, I wouldn’t,” Ainge said. “If it’s something you wouldn’t do when someone is living, I’m not sure it’s something you should do when they pass. We’ve talked about this — maybe on this show before, too — just about retired numbers and how few of them we have. But I think there are ways to honor people without just retiring jerseys.”

The Celtics face the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night in their first game at TD Garden since Bryant’s death.

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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