Whether you love or hate the team, it’s tough to take issue with the Boston Celtics’ uniforms. The classic kelly green and white combination is one of pro sports’ cleanest looks. During the 2022 NBA Playoffs, though, you may have noticed a new addition to the jersey. No, we’re not talking about the Vista Print logo.
On the left-hand shoulder of each jersey, the Celtics players are currently sporting a black band and the number 24. While that might seem like a somewhat random inclusion, long-time sports fans will recognize it as a mark of respect for a late legend: Sam Jones.
The Boston Celtics added the number 24 to their jerseys after the death of Sam Jones
Over the years, the Boston Celtics have had plenty of iconic players don their famous uniforms. While he might not have the same global recognition as Bill Russell or Larry Bird, Sam Jones certainly earned his place in history.
The guard came to Beantown in 1957 and eventually earned a place in Red Auerbach’s rotation. Jones would win 10 championships over the years, but he wasn’t simply along for the ride. He frequently paced the team in scoring, averaging 17.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per outing across 12 professional campaigns, and earned All-NBA honors on three separate occasions.
Jones’ role in Celtics history was so significant that the club retired his number on March 9, 1969. The sharpshooter scored 16 points after being honored ahead of tip-off and retired at the end of the season.
For all of those achievements, though, Jones was still a human being. He ultimately died on December 30, 2021.
The Celtics paid tribute to the late legend on January 5, 2022. Ever since that night, they’ve been wearing a black band on their jerseys, which is emblazoned with Jones’ number 24.
Claiming the 2022 NBA title would be a fitting tribute to the Boston Celtics great
While Jones might not have as many rings as Bill Russell, he still has more than just about anyone else in NBA history. Through that lens, the Celtics have the perfect chance to honor his legacy during the 2022 postseason.
Boston, of course, entered the playoffs as the second seed in the Eastern Conference. While they had the misfortune of drawing the Brooklyn Nets in the first round — you never want to meet Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in an elimination situation — the Celtics do have a relatively favorable matchup. They’ve been in great form since the All-Star Break, boast two legit talents in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and can handle their business on the defensive end of the floor.
While things won’t get much easier after (hypothetically) beating the Nets, those strengths mean that Boston is also capable of going toe-to-toe with the Bucks, followed by either the Heat or 76ers. 538’s playoff predictions, for whatever they’re worth, also give Boston the highest chance (35%) of winning the title.
Although sentimentality rarely overrules rooting interests — it’s unlikely that Boston will become the neutrals’ favorite at this point in the season — it certainly would be fitting if they won an 18th title with Sam Jones’ number 24 on their shoulder.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference