In reaction to the recent passing of Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, the NBA has announced that they will honor his “life and legacy” by retiring No. 6 throughout the league. A la MLB’s Jackie Robinson and NHL‘s Wayne Gretzky, Russell will be the first NBA player to have his number retired for every team.
“Bill Russell’s unparalleled success on the court and pioneering civil rights activism deserves to be honored in a unique and historic way,” commissioner Adam Silver said in a press release. “Permanently retiring his No. 6 across every NBA team ensures that his transcendent career will always be recognized.”
Any player currently wearing No. 6 will have the opportunity to be “grandfathered in.” They may continue to wear it, but no team will be able to issue No. 6 to a player ever again.
In addition to retiring Russell’s number, the NBA will also pay tribute in other ways throughout the 2022-23 season. All players will wear a commemorative patch on their jerseys, and every court will display a clover-shaped logo with No. 6 on the sideline.
Bill Russell Passed Away Peacefully on July 31 at the Age of 88
On a quiet Sunday afternoon, a statement was posted to Bill Russell’s Twitter account. It said that the NBA legend had passed away earlier that morning.
Russell won an NBA record 11 championships in 13 seasons. He helped lead Boston to eight consecutive titles from 1959-to-1966. In 2009, the NBA named the Finals Most Valuable Player Award in his honor.
The league inducted Russell into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1975. For his civil rights activism and leadership, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2011. The NBA recognized the legend again in 2019. He earned the league’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his efforts as one of the greatest game ambassadors of all time.