When Amir Johnson signed with the Boston Celtics earlier this month, he selected to wear number 90 because all the other numbers he wanted were retired.
It's not a recent problem for new players who come to Boston looking to put on their favorite number, or even a normal one. (When Jae Crowder was acquired by the club last December, he wore number 99.)
Should the Celtics ease things up and un-retire some of their numbers? The Boston Globe decided to have a closer look:
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"Should the Celtics consider revising their retired-jersey policy to allow current players to wear some of the untouchable numbers, while maintaining tradition? Other sports organizations have created rings of honor or other ways to laud former players without retiring numbers. Or they have allowed players to wear numbers that had been retired. While some numbers should not be touched -- Bill Russell (6), Bob Cousy (14), John Havlicek (17), Larry Bird (33) -- the Celtics may want to consider allowing players to wear numbers of players considered Celtic greats but perhaps not all-time greats. The Celtics are a victim of their own success, as are the Lakers, who have also racked up retired numbers at a rapid rate."
Boston's had so many great players come through and they've won more titles than anybody else, so it's unclear how they could un-retire someone's number without upsetting a whole bunch of people. A retired number is a sacred thing.
If the only price for all their previous success is a few guys having to wear funky numbers, well, every other organization in the league would swap problems with them in a second.
(h/t: Boston Globe)