Enes Kanter explains why he took No. 11, Kemba Walker gets Antoine's blessing

Gabby Guerard
July 17, 2019 - 5:42 pm

Enes Kanter officially signed his contract with Boston on Wednesday, which meant it was time to select his jersey number. The center decided to take No. 11, which previously belonged to former Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving. When asked about the decision at Wednesday’s introductory press conference with Kemba Walker, he was quick to mock the Nets' new superstar.

“It was my old jersey number, by the way, No. 11,” Kanter said while trying to keep a straight face, “and I want to be the reason no one else will wear it."

His remarks were a reference to Irving’s comments in a Nike commercial from last fall, in which the former-Celtics point guard said, “(My dad) is the reason I wear No. 11, and I want to be the reason no one else will.”

Yet, in 2019, No. 11 was still available for Kanter to take. And Boston fans have started recycling their old Irving jerseys by taping over the name and writing “Kanter” — which the 27-year-old Turkey native is totally fine with.

“I was seeing a couple people covering up the Irving and putting some Kanter tape on it and I was like, 'You know what? It could become a thing,'" he said. So I’m just like, 'Why not?'

“Probably Nike won’t be happy about it, but you know what? Don’t burn any jerseys. I’m against wasting. So if you’re going to burn it, just cover up the back.”

Kemba Walker's jersey number had previously been announced by the C's. The point guard elected to switch from No. 15 to No. 8. His logic behind the decision was a little different from Kanter's.

“It’s hard, there’s no numbers available here, everything’s retired,” Walker said. “The reason I’m wearing eight is because my birthday is May 8. And eight was available, so I went with it.”

Of course, he isn’t the only Walker to wear No. 8 for the Celtics. Antoine Walker wore it for eight seasons in Boston, during which time he was named an NBA All-Star three times. 

“It’s cool to wear Antoine’s number,” Boston's new point guard said. “I spoke to him, so he gave me the blessing as well, so I’m excited.”

Two reusable jerseys for Celtics fans — one without any tape required.