Celtics need to keep No. 36 on active duty

As Marcus Smart soaked in all that love Sunday night at the Garden, it was clear that someone, somewhere, would pose the question: Should the Celtics retire his number.

The response here was immediate and etched in granite:


Want a longer answer?

Hell no.

This is from a man who has steadfastly defended the Celtics for retiring so many numbers. They even have the distinction of being the only team in any sport to retire the same number for two players.

Dave Cowens was the last Celtic to wear No. 18. But beloved designated bruiser Jim Loscutoff wore 18 before Cowens. That explains the only known retirement of a nickname: Loscy.

Red Auerbach summed up the thought process in retiring so many numbers.

“You win a lot of championships,” he said, letting a cloud of cigar smoke take flight, “you retire a lot of numbers.”

Not all of the honored players won a championship with Boston. Ed Macauley played for the C’s for six seasons before the dynasty began, won one title with St. Louis, and is in the Hall of Fame. Reggie Lewis’ No. 35 is retired in anticipation of might have been had he not died at the tender age of 27.

No. 1 was retired in honor of team founder Walter Brown. No. 2 was retired in honor of patriarch Red Auerbach.

Clearly the Celtics are uninhibited when it comes to retired numbers.

But Marcus Smart? Diving for loose balls and taking on any defensive assignment are great attributes. The man played hard and without a speck of fear. 

On the other side of the ledger, his shot selection could be horrible at the worst possible times, which exasperated his teammates. His aggressive nature also led to some ill-timed silly fouls.

Smart had a good career and won the hearts of his fans. His desire to win, and his willingness to do anything asked of him in pursuit of victory, are unquestioned.

But if he is the last Celtic to wear No. 36, the shark has been jumped.