“I thought it would be a nice way to remember [my mom] while I’m here.”
When players join the Celtics these days, it might be tough for them to pick a jersey number.
Boston has retired 23 numbers and nearly every jersey number between 0-25 has either been retired or is currently being used. So, when center Mike Muscala was traded to the Celtics on Thursday, he didn’t have many conventional options to pick from as the two jersey numbers he’s worn over his NBA career (31 and 33) are both retired.
Muscala ended up picking 57 because the number holds a special meaning to him.
“That was the year my mom was born. She passed right before the season,” Muscala told reporters Friday after his game with the Celtics. “I thought it would be a nice way to remember her while I’m here.”\
Muscala shared in an interview with The Oklahoman Jenni Carlson in September the special bond he had with his mother. He revealed that his mom, Mary Maiden, would text him good luck before every game from her Minnesota home, even after she battled ovarian cancer for two years.
“She didn’t miss a game,” Muscala told Carlson.
After undergoing season-ending ankle surgery last March, Muscala did much of his rehab in Minnesota to be close to his mother. In the leadup to the 2022-23 season, Muscala went back and forth between Oklahoma City and Minnesota to spend as much time with his mom before she went into hospice care in September and passed away two days later.
Muscala remarked to Carlson that his mom “fought super hard” as she battled cancer. He also told Carlson he wants to keep his mom’s memory alive by being as kind as she was.
“I just feel like it came from a genuine place,” Muscala said. “She just really valued everybody, and she just wanted to learn from everybody and be kind to people. That just meant a lot of people around her.”
Muscala got off to a good start to his Celtics career on Friday. He scored 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting (all 3-pointers), which led Cedric Maxwell to quip on the NBC Sports Boston broadcast that he might have to let his No. 31 come down from the rafters and let Muscala wear it.
Muscala enjoyed his Celtics debut.
“It was really fun. The energy in the arena was amazing,” Muscala said. “You can just tell the fans love the game here. It was just a blessing. It was fun.”