Holding a 3-2 lead, the Boston Celtics can close their series tonight against the Toronto Raptors.
Walker is kicking butt in his first year in Boston. A Bronx, New York native and UConn legend, Walker is averaging 22.8 points per game.
He also switched numbers. Gone is the No. 15 he wore with the Charlotte Hornets. He’s now wearing No. 8.
Wait! Walker No. 8? We’ve seen that somewhere before!
Ah yes, former Celtic, Antoine Walker, Boston’s sixth overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft out of the University of Kentucky also wore No. 8.
Appearing on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show, Antoine Walker revealed that Kemba Walker actually asked him for permission to wear his jersey. “We ended up communicating through social media,” he said.
“And he asked for my blessing to be able to wear number No. 8 and I was like: ‘Man, how could you turn a guy you know; All-Star and a guy that was actually nice enough to even include me in the thought process of wearing a jersey?’ So I was excited that he wore it.
“Come on now, Kemba Walker gets the Walker jersey?
“You can say what you want in the media, but that’s a REAL Antoine Walker jersey. But I want to give Kemba a lot of respect because he didn’t have to do that at all. Like I said, we didn’t have a prior relationship, but for him to reach out to me made me feel special.”
Antoine Walker shared that he picked No. 8 during his Celtics playing days because No. 24, the number he wore at Kentucky wasn’t available because Celtics legend, Sam Jones wore it and it was retired on Mar. 9, 1969. Jones led the Celtics in scoring four times in his Celtics career, which spanned twelve seasons from 1957 through 1969.
“When you go pro you want the same number,” said Walker.
“I get on the phone press conference after I get drafted and the Celtics said, ‘What number you want?’ I said, “Number #24!” They said, ‘No, it’s retired. That number is in the rafters.’ So they said: ‘How about this. We’re going to tell you what numbers we got available because we have quite a few numbers that’s retired.’ So they went through the thing; so I picked number No. 8 on a random. Very random. Nothing meant by it, didn’t mean anything to me at all… it was just very random.”
In retrospect, Walker was glad that he picked No. 8 because it proved to be very marketable.
“Then I get drafted and I get signed with Adidas when I went pro and the guy who was running Adidas at the time, Jim Gotto came up with these sayings: ‘New Kid on the Block, Employee No. 8.’ So he kept making up all these things with the number No. 8 so that’s how the number got attached to me. So it was no really reason behind it.”
Walker’s first stint with the Celtics was from 1996-2003. He was traded to the Atlanta Hawks and then the Dallas Mavericks before finding his way back to Boston in a trade with the Hawks on February 24, 2005 in a deal surrounding Gary Payton, Tom Gugliotta, Michael Stewart and a first-round draft pick. When Walker returned to Boston, his No. 8 was taken by former Cetics big man, Al Jefferson.
I think I wore number No. 88 for a couple days,” recounted Walker.
“I had to give him a watch to get my number back.
“A Jacob watch.”
Jacob watches are pricey signature watches designed by jeweler, Jacob Arabo.
If you paid attention to hip hop music videos from 2002-2005, it’s likely that you inadvertently saw Arabo’s Jacob & Co. watches and other fine jewelry. Arabo’s watches came equipped with multi-colored watch bands that showed fie different time zones. Arabo has made jewelry for the late great, Notorious BIG, Jay-Z, Faboulous and many more.
Fourteen NBA Players have worn No. 8. The first person to wear it was Al Brightman. Before Antoine Walker wore it, Kenny Battle and James Blackwell have worn it.
Who has worn it since ‘Toine left?
“I think Stephon [Marbury] put it on,” recounted Antoine Walker.
“And Jeff Green had put it on when I left.”
Other Celtics No. 8 notables post-Antoine Walker include: Marquis Daniels, Jeff Green, Jonas Jerebko and Shane Larkin.
Since Walker’s departure, Stephon Marbury has worn No. 8. But Antoine Walker is glad that Kemba Walker gives Celtics fans a chance to see a No. 8 named Walker shine in green again. It’s economical too if you think about it. “I saved everybody a lot of money,” he said.
“If you think about it, I saved everybody a lot of money. I saved a lot money for the Celtics fans.”