The NBA will honor the 11-time champion and all-time legend bill russell retiring the number 6 in all 30 franchises, making him the first player to receive such an honor.
A commemorative Russell patch on the right shoulder of the jerseys and a No. 6 trefoil logo will also be worn throughout the NBA for the 2022-23 season, the League and the National Basketball Players Association announced Thursday. .
“Bill Russell’s unprecedented success on the court and pioneering civil rights activism deserve to be honored in a unique and historic way,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “Permanently retiring No. 6 from him on every NBA team ensures that Bill’s momentous career will always be recognized.”
The life and legacy of 11-time NBA champion and civil rights pioneer Bill Russell will be honored by retiring his uniform number, 6, throughout the league. The iconic Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer will be the first player to have his number retired across the NBA. pic.twitter.com/OSVx02bQDl
— NBA (@NBA) August 11, 2022
Players currently wearing number 6, including Los Angeles Lakers star, Lebron JamesY Kristaps Porzingis, of the Washington Wizards, may continue to wear the number, which will not be issued to any player again, the league said. A total of 25 players wore the number 6 during the 2021-22 season, according to Basketball Reference.
Russell died on July 31 at the age of 88.
The Boston Celtics big man was the most prolific winner in NBA history, an 11-time champion during a 13-year career, winning the last two of those titles as a player-coach, and the first African-American coach in any of the major US professional sports to win a championship.
The Celtics have a separate, unique recognition planned for him on their uniforms, the NBA reported.
“This is a momentous honor reserved for one of the greatest champions to ever play,” NBPA Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio said in a statement. “Bill’s actions on and off the court throughout his life helped improve generations of players and for that we will be eternally grateful. We are proud to continue celebrating his life and legacy along with the League”.
Russell was also known for his civil rights work. He marched with Martin Luther King Jr., stood up with Muhammad Ali and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama.
Having his number retired throughout the League puts Russell in a very exclusive club.
Major League Baseball (MB) permanently retired number 42 in 1997 in honor of Jackie Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier, with the understanding that those who wore that number could continue to do so. Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees was the last in the majors to wear number 42, doing so during his final season in 2013.
The NHL, following Wayne Gretzky’s retirement in 1999, said his number 99 would be retired from the entire league in honor of the sport’s all-time leading scorer.
And now, Russell gets the same treatment. It seems fitting that he and Robinson, both barrier breakers, are linked again. Russell called Robinson a hero and once said, “He showed me the way to be a man in professional sports.”
Robinson clearly held Russell in high regard as well. Russell’s widow, Rachel Robinson, asked Russell to carry the casket at her husband’s funeral in 1972.
There have been more than 250 players in NBA history who wore a number 6 jersey and Russell is one of only 12 enshrined players in the Basketball Hall of Fame who wore number 6 at some point in their careers. the others are Julius ErvinPatrick Ewing, ben wallaceDon Barksdale, Chuck Cooper, Larry Costello, Tom Gola, Cliff Hagan, Alex Hannum, Buddy Jeanette and Neil Johnston.
No one has worn the 6 on the Celtics since Russell’s last season in 1968-69.
Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Bill Russell’s ‘6’ will retire from the entire NBA