When Blake Griffin signed with the Boston Celtics on September 30, he chose a pretty uncommon number to wear on his jersey, donning the number 91. By wearing the number 91 on his jersey, Griffin is not only the first player in Celtics history to do that, but, according to Gary Washburn, Griffin is wearing it to pay tribute to NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman when he played for the Chicago Bulls from 1995 to 1998.
Among those who approve of Griffin’s jersey number is former Los Angeles Lakers wing and NBA Champion Metta Sandiford-Artest, better known as Ron Artest during his playing days in the NBA. TMZ caught up with Artest to ask him his thoughts on Griffin’s jersey number choice. Artest was more than supportive.
“Oh wow, that’s incredible!” Artest said. “That’s really good to hear. I’m a big Rodman fan, and now I can’t wait to buy the jersey.”
Artest may also approve because he wore the number 91 when he played for the Indiana Pacers during his days as an NBA player. Artest, Griffin, and Rodman are three of the five players in NBA history who have worn the number 91. The other two are Mindaugas Kuzminskas, when he played for the New York Knicks, and Deividas Sirvydis, when he played for the Detroit Pistons.
Griffin Takes Shot at Brooklyn Nets
After Griffin made his debut for the Celtics against the Charlotte Hornets on October 7, Griffin caught up with Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston to talk about how he’s felt thus far since joining the Celtics.
Griffin praised the team for its intensity and maturity while also mentioning something else that felt like a jab at his previous team.
“I think the intensity and maturity level of this group is off the charts,” Griffin said. “Every day when we get to work, it’s intense, it’s not that we’re going forever, but these guys are locked in and nobody has to tell us to be locked in. It’s refreshing.”
The refreshing bit that Griffin mentions following his praise for the Celtics’ maturity comes off like a subtle jab at the Brooklyn Nets, considering he played for them for the last year and a half. Then again, he’s going from a team that had just been swept in the first round to a team that was two wins away from an NBA title.
It should come as no surprise that one team’s mentality may differ from the other.
Griffin Praised for His Performance in Debut
In his preseason debut with the Celtics, Griffin put up seven points, nine rebounds, and two assists while shooting one-for-six from the field – which included a three-pointer – in 16 minutes.
While his scoring numbers were far from terrific, his other numbers were pretty encouraging for someone who wasn’t on the roster when training camp started.
Griffin’s play was encouraging enough that The Athletic’s Jared Weiss praised him for looking like the big the Celtics had in mind when they signed him.
“Boston needs another big who can screen, roll and make good reads. That was Griffin on Friday night, which was important for a team looking for someone committed to rolling through the paint. He still has to learn the playbook, but he looked as if he’s been with the team for more than just a week.”
While Griffin’s only made shot was a three-pointer, Weiss pointed out that “he got to the line a few times and looked comfortable with knowing when and where to roll.”
At 33 years old and no longer being the high-flying all-star he once was, there’s no telling how much Griffin has left in the tank, but the Celtics believe he has enough left to give him a guaranteed deal throughout the upcoming season.