KG Walton
Garnett celebrates his bastardization of number 5
while an irate Walton looks on from the past.

I was absolutely stunned to find out that Kevin Garnett will be wearing number 5* for the Celtics. I know things have been bad in Beantown for the last several years, but I didn't realize the problems with the Boston franchise extended to the equipment managers! Giving away Bill Walton's jersey number...what were they thinking?! That's like removing the Pope's hat and dress and giving them to some begger on the street: It's a travesty of Biblical proportions.

*Apparently, KG's first choices were numbers 21, 1, and 2. However, those numbers are already retired: Bill Sharman wore 21 and numbers 1 and 2 were retired to honor Walter Brown (the team's first and greatest owner) and Red Auerbach (the team's third and greatest coach).

Some people are claiming that Garnett feels Celtic Pride. KG himself said, "The Celtics have had a proud tradition and now I hope that we can add to the legacy." Shame on you, Kevin Garnett! That may be the most heinous lie in the history of man's wickedness. If Garnett really understood the deep and complex mythos of the Celtics, he wouldn't tarnish Walton's accomplishments by sullying the big man's number. Why stop there, Kevin? Why not pull down a few of those championship banners and wipe your ass with them?

By making this decision, Garnett lost money, he lost some self-respect, and he lost legitimacy in the eyes of future hall of fame coach Doc Rivers. Okay, Rivers probably won't get into the NBA Hall of Fame, but he's in the Hall of Fame of Life. Sadly, I doubt Doc has the authority to redress this numeric injustice, and with Red Auerbach dead and buried, the Celtics have no one left who can restore order to the universe.

The raping of Bill Walton's Celtic number is one of the worst defilements, not just in basketball, or in America, but in the history of Western Civilization. What a pathetic move by a pathetic human being. Boston fans everywhere are throwing up their hands in exasperated dismay. All I can do is shake my head and ask what has happened to that once beautiful team.

Bill Walton's Top 13 Celtic Moments

Did Walton deserve to have his jersey retired, and thus keep it out of the clutches of glory-hogging sneak-thieves like Kevin Garnett? You're damned right he did! Here's a brief list of Walton's greatest Celtic moments as he led them to banner number 16.

1. October 25, 1985: Bill played 19 minutes, scored four points, committed five fouls, and turned the ball over seven times. The Celtics, not surprisingly, lost 113-109 in overtime. While his performance was appalling, his post-game quote was comedy gold: "I was a total disgrace to the game of basketball." Thanks largely to Walton's humble admission, the Celtics would go on to win their next nine games.

2. Date unknown: In his autobiography Nothing But Net, Walton recounts the bullying and verbal abuse he suffered at the hands of teammate Kevin McHale. Eventually, Big Bill decided enough was enough, and in Karate Kid-like fashion, Walton challenged McHale to a game of one-on-one in front of the entire team and coaching staff. Despite the fact that McHale was younger, healthier, and -- at that stage of his career -- better than Walton, Big Bill kicked his tormentor's butt, then limped out of practice with his head held high.

3. December 30, 1985: Walton faced his former team, the Los Angeles Clippers, and showed them what they were missing en route to leading the Celtics to a 125-103 win. The redhead contributed nine points, 13 rebounds, and a blocked shot in just 17 minutes of action.

4. January 10, 1986: The Celtics were facing the Hawks on the road, and Atlanta bolted out to a 70-47 halftime lead. Infuriated by the trashtalking of Eddie Johnson and some other Hawks players, Walton came out of halftime on a personal mission. He would go on to play a season-high 28 minutes and finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, and four blocked shots. Moreover, he was instrumental after the Celtics managed for force overtime, breaking the game's final tie with a tip-in and then blocking Eddie Johnson's shot on the Hawk's next possession. Bill's leadership was responsible for the Celtics' 115-108 overtime win...and the team's biggest comeback of the season.

5. January 22, 1986: Before wisely agreeing to help form what Bob Costas once described as "the best single-season team ever," Walton briefly considered joining the hated Lakers. But Jerry West, mindful of Walton's history of foot and ankle injuries, spurned him. Said West: "Thanks for the interest, Bill, but I've seen the X-rays of your foot." Walton correctly believed the Lakers had made a mistake, and he was determined to make them regret it. He did just that when the teams faced off at the Boston Garden. Walton racked up 11 points (on 5-of-6 shooting), eight rebounds, four assists, and seven blocked shots in only 16 minuts of playing time. Thanks to his inspired effort, the Celtics crushed the Lakers 110-95.

6. January 26, 1986: The rival 76ers were in town, and Larry Bird (9-of-25) wasn't up to the challenge. Fortunately, Bill Walton was. Walton scored 19 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and blocked two shots in a mere 25 minutes, leading his team to a very satisfying 105-103 victory.

7. February 5, 1986: Going into this game against the Washington Bullets, the Celtics were missing McHale, who was the team's third best player (behind Walton and Bird). It didn't matter, though, because Big Bill once again stepped up his game, notching 13 points and a season-high 17 rebounds while tying his season-high of 28 minutes. Thanks to him, the Celtics destroyed the Bullets 103-88.

8. February 16, 1986: On the road and facing the Lakers, the team that wouldn't give him a chance, Walton once again showed his legendary promise, earning 10 points, seven rebounds, and one blocked shot in 26 pulse-pounding minutes. But it was more than just the numbers; Walton shut down James Worthy in key stretches and held Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- the NBA's all-time leading scorer -- to a mere two points in the fourth quarter. Another great Walton game, another big win for the Celtics.

9. March 24, 1986: During a March 14 game against the Atlanta Hawks, Big Bill broke his nose, and then he fractured the navicular bone in his right wrist while blocking a Tree Rollins shot. But Walton had come too far to let a few broken bones stop him. He continued to play through pain, and then, when Robert Parish missed a game against the Houston Rockets, Walton got his first start of the season. During warmups, Bird walked up to Walton and said, "I know what you're thinking. Forget about it. Those [Parish's] shots are my shots. You just get on the weak side and rebound." The two men shared a laugh, because they knew who the real leader of the team was. And true to form, Walton delivered: 20 points (on 8-of-10 shooting) and 12 rebounds in a comfy-cozy 116-97 victory.

10. April 8, 1986: At this point, Walton's dominance was pretty obvious. He made his second start of the season against Milwaukee and again keyed a Celtics win by scoring a season-high 22 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in just 28 minutes.

11. May 29, 1986: Prior to Game 2 of the Finals, Walton was awarded the NBA's Sixth Man Award. Although he probably deserved the MVP, Walton was both humble and grateful. Buoyed by this joyous event, the Celtics hammered the Rockets 117-95.

12. June 3, 1986: Celtics coach K.C. Jones, trying to turn back a Rockets surge, turned to Bill Walton in crunch time, and Walton again came through for his team. With the game tied at 101 with just over two minutes to go, Walton worked a brilliant inside-out feed to Bird, who hit a three-pointer off of Walton's clever assist to give the Celtics a 104-101 lead. The Rockets scored on their next possession to pull within 104-103, and when a Dennis Johnson miss clanked off the rim, Walton swooped in from the right, evaded Hakeem Olajuwon, grabbed the rebound, and put up a backhanded layup that gave the Celtics a 106-103 win and a 3-1 series lead.

13. Date unknown: Walton, along with teammates Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, posed for the following picture. More work of art than mere photograph, the aptly titled "Big Men, Little Court" has gone on to win several international awards and inspired an entire generation of photo journalists. This is the kind of world-changing accomplishment that won't show up in any record books, but nonetheless is an integral component of the Bill Walton Legacy.

Walton 2

Greatest Miscarriage of Justice...Ever?

Number thieves

Not only did KG bogart Walton's number, but Paul Pierce continues to wear Kevin Gamble's number, and it looks like Ray Allen has filched Sherman Douglas' old cipher. I'm too disgusted for words.

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31 Comments:
Anonymous Josh said...
Kevin...put that leg down, I know you were nicknamed the worm, but...

I'm guessing Ray Allen wants to have 2 and a half dissappointing seasons and leave?

But (thankfully now) seriously, I forgot that Walton's number wasn't retired for Boston, I always thought it was. What saddens me is that if Garnett does any good in Boston, like win titles, his number probably WILL be retired. What would they do?

Anonymous Minnesota Nice Guy said...
bill walton is, was, and will forever be garbage. Kevin's running the show now.

Anonymous Josh said...
Hey, Walton was vastly underrated as a back-up sixth man. Walton could've been SCARY if he didn't get injured so much. Keep in mind he was the MVP in 1977(?) and played in only like 58 games.

Anonymous Dickey Simpkins said...
Walton wasn't garbage, he was probably the best passing center of all time, and would have cemented his status as a top 10 center if he didn't hurt himself so much. Shameful that the world will remember him for being the worst color commentator in the history of the NBA, and yes that includes Tom Tolbert.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Was McHale also nicknamed "the Worm"? I thought Rodman was the only one.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Dennis Rodman was nicknamed The Worm; McHale was known, somewhat derisively, as The Black Hole (a nickname created by Danny Ainge). He was also dubbed "Sir Kevin The Fourth" by longtime Celtics radio announcer Johnny Most.

It's possible that Josh is confusing Kevin's nickname with the descriptions of some of his low post moves, which included (but were not limited to): the worm-and-squirm, the slippery eel, and the white salamander.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Oh, and josh and dickey are right about Walton: he was AWEsome.

Blogger motnews said...
Actually, Ray Allen is wearing Larry Siegfried's old number. He had it 20 years before Ray Williams (and then Sherman Douglas) stole it.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
motnews -- Nice work, my man. I humbly salute this fine piece of historical information you've provided.

Anonymous Josh said...
Yes, you are correct, my bad. Thanks for the correction. :P I had meant the low post moves he did. As Tommy used to say "He used his wiggle move! That worm move!".

Anonymous Anonymous said...
How did that photo ever not make it into the homo-erotic NBA moments post???!?!?!?!

Blogger Basketbawful said...
"How did that photo ever not make it into the homo-erotic NBA moments post???!?!?!?!"

I certainly would have...except that I just found it yesterday. I'm not sure what the history of this picture is, and I'm not sure I want to know.

josh -- Yep, good old Tommy. Nobody could sound so excited about announcing somebody's "worm move."

Anonymous Katchoo said...
Is this Celtics team really any better than the T-Wolves team of a few years ago that made it to the Western Finals?

Cassell & Spreewell = Allen & Pierce ?

Sure the East isn't like the West, but Boston won't exactly be playing against the Washington Generals every night. They'll get to play against Atlanta 6 or so times, but it's not going to be enough.

Walton's # 5 is safe, since Boston only retires the numbers of winners & those that have passed on. Unless Garnett dies while wearing the green, # 5 will be staying below the rafters.

Keep on truckin' Bill, keep on truckin'.

Anonymous M.L. Carr said...
That picture of Mc Hale, Chief and Big Bill looks like a mix of Gullivers Travels, a crappy Twilight Zone and a dream that Barney Frank had.

Anonymous Sean said...
That picture give me nightmares last night. Thanks a lot, Basketbawful.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
sometimes i eat the breadcrumbs separately to the chicken from the chicken kiev.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
katchoo -- Honestly, I would rate Pierce and Allen ahead of Spreewell and Cassell (from that particular season, anyway). Although the supporting cast doesn't include Fred Hoiberg, so yeah, the C's won't be any better than the Wolves were...

m.l.carr -- I miss your towel.

sean -- That picture should have burned off your retinas, so be grateful all you had was a few nightmares.

anonymous -- Uhm, okay...

Blogger Erik said...
I'm sure Bill is honored, AWESTRUCK and completely BLOWN AWAY by the mere THOUGHT that the Big Ticket, the KID HIMSELF, the incomparable AND singular talent that is KEVIN GARNETT will be sharing his number; that, for even one FLEETING MOMENT, he and KG will be linked, tied and UNITED in the aura, being and essence that is CELTIC PRIDE.

And by the way, where was the outrage when Gerald Green wearing number 5 for his illustrious Celtic career?

Blogger Basketbawful said...
You may be right, erik. My post was more from the late 70s/early 80s Walton perspective, but your take is more consistent with the Walton of today. I don't know if you or anyone else noticed, but the first half of this post is comprised entirely of Bill Walton quotes that have been changed ever so slightly.

I didn't feel like Green really threatened Bill's legacy (although I'm sure Tommy Heinsohn would have disagreed: GIT DA BALL TO GER-UHLD!). But if by some miracle (i.e., the C's actually adding a few decent role players) this team wins a championship, no way will Big Bill's number get retired in his name (I figured it would happen posthumously).

Anonymous padraig said...
bbawful: I didn't say anything cos I was 99% sure the post was, uh, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but are seriously suggesting that the Celtics should feel compelled to retire Walton's number? He had one very good season wherein he deservedly won his 6th Man award and made a sizeable contribution to them winning a title, but it was just one season. Does that really merit retiring a number? I'm not trying to slight Walton's greatness, especially b/c I firmly believe he would have made it into the Wilt-Russell-Kareem-Hakeem-Shaq pantheon had he not been felled by the injuries, but really? On the strength that one season alone, during which he was like the 3rd or 4th most important player on the team? I'm sure you have your reasoning, I'd just like to hear what it is.

Also, threatening legacies aside, Gerald Green wearing #5 is roughly 17 billion times more insulting. At least KG has, you know, won an MVP and been a top 10 player in the League for several years.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
padraig -- By any objective measure, Walton has no business having his number retired by the Celtics (which obviously is why it hasn't happened). But then, neither, really, did Reggie Lewis, whose most notable accomplishment as a Celtic was dying. Or what about Jim Loscutoff, who might have been around for 7 championships, but his primary contribution was being "the team's designated hatchet man"?

Walton was part of a miraculous season. Many people consider that '86 team to be one of the greatest teams of all time. In fact, they came in second in NBA.com's All-Time Finals Challenge. And Bill Walton was the player that transformed them from a great team to one of the greatest ever.

Of course, sentiment aside, that alone doesn't prove he belongs in the august circles of those retired Celtics numbers. My post was tongue in cheek. But it was also my way of recognizing Bill's contribution for my personal favorite NBA season and championship.

Anonymous Josh said...
And who says people who have their numbers retired have to be freakin' league stars? What's wrong with a guy's number being retired for their contributions? Hell, take Brad Davis. He has his number retired in Dallas. He never averaged more than 12 points per game. Why is his number retired? He was a fan favorite, busted his ass, and overall contributed to the team. Same goes for Nate McMillan, whose number joined the ranks of Seattle a few years ago. And there's even more I'm not going to list here.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
bbawful: fair enough. I didn't want to be that dude who kills the vibe by getting all bent out of shape over the subtle humor and it's not like I'd object or anything if Boston was to retire #5. honestly, I was just trying to defend KG, my 3rd favorite player behind Duncan and S-Jax. Weirdly enough, I think KG is, out of all current players (except possibly TD), the guy who Bill Walton would probably be most proud to share a number with, based on shared identity as dominant big men, KG's work ethic/talent and the fact that Ticket seems like the kind of classy dude who'd really respect and honor a number's heritage. Gerald Green, whom I saw aptly described as a "homeless man's JR Smith", is an entirely differnet matter.

jim: I'm not a numbers-retiring absolutist or anything. But it does seem like for a dude to have his retired he needs to have developed a strong relationship with that team's fans either through prolific winning or being a Davis-type fan favorite, both of which are aided by a longer tenure. Thus it seems like Walton's # getting hung up for one season would be slightly silly. He had his number retire by Blazers, which makes perfect sense (and how many players are there who've had numbers retired by multiple teams? that's not rhetorical, I have no idea). Would I flip out if the Celtics hung up #5? Absolutely not. It would just be a little weird.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
You know, anonymous, I agree with you. KG is precisely the type of player Bill Walton admires most, not only his character, but his game: he scores but is also an unselfish playmakers, fights on the board, and brings intensity every night. Actually, KG's game is quite similar to Walton's...that is, the relatively healthy Walton of the late 70s.

I'm a KG fan, too. I want him to do well, and prove he can win with other talented teammates. Especially with the C's...because in case you haven't noticed, I'm pretty passionate about the Celtics and their storied history.

Anonymous 80's NBA said...
That picture of McHale, Parish, and Walton is from the 1986-87 NBA Preview Issue from Sports Illustrated (late Oct, or early Nov. 1986).

I think the actual caption was, "The Celtics big men post each other up on the hardwood", or something like that.

Blogger ace said...
Didn't Ron Mercer use the #5 already in Boston? Why make a big deal out of KG wearing #5 right now?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
It's not the number they wear; it's about the numbers behind the W.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
John Bagley was #5 WAY before Mercer, Green, and KG. Sorry 1 6th man award winning season, a championship, and 10 games the next season doesn't make your number sacred in Boston.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I gotta say, saying Garnett wearing #5 is one of the biggest travesties in the history of western civilization is a bit of a stretch. I'll admit Walton was a great player but he really didn't do much in his tome with Boston. I think this whole article is just way too extreme. Calling garnett a glory thief is ridiculous, since he's widely considered one of the most unselfish players in the history of the NBA.

Anonymous KHayes666 said...
Not that anyone's going to read this comment seeing as how the blog post is 3 years old, nevertheless:

I think the original number 5, Tony Kappen should have had a say in whether or not Garnett should have gotten his number....but considering Kappen played 60 years ago I have a feeling he's not with us anymore to complain.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
reading the first sentence of #1 after the already over the top introduction had me laughing my ass off.

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