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.