Center Enes Kanter says he has two reasons for choosing to wear No. 11 as a new member of the Celtics.
1. It’s the same jersey number he wore as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
2. He wants to be the reason no one else will wear it.
Does Kanter actually hope to be honored in the TD Garden rafters one day? Perhaps. But the 27-year-old certainly wasn’t going to waste an opportunity to crack a joke — even if it came at the expense of former Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving.
Irving, the last player to wear No. 11 in green and white, filmed a Nike commercial in November in which he proclaimed his desire to have his jersey retired. Recorded on the Garden parquet, the one-minute spot shows Irving and his father, Drederick, who also wore No. 11 when he played college basketball at Boston University.
“He’s the reason I wear No. 11,” Irving said. “I want to be the reason no one else will.”
Kanter delivered that exact line during his introductory press conference Wednesday, when asked for his reasoning for choosing the same number.
“I had to say it,” he said, with a smile.