“Bill Russell’s unprecedented success in the field and pioneering civil rights activism deserve to be honored in a unique and historic way,” Silver said in a statement. “Permanently retiring his number 6 on all NBA teams ensures that Bill’s transcendent career will always be recognized.”
Current NBA players who wear number 6 — including Lakers star LeBron James — will be allowed to continue, but teams cannot assign the number to new players.
Major League Baseball permanently retired the number 42 in Robinson’s honor in 1997, half a century after breaking the sport’s color barrier. Russell became the NBA’s first black coach in 1966 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2011.
Bill Russell was truly the greatest of all time
The NBA, which named its Finals MVP award after Russell in 2009, will recognize his career throughout the 2022-23 season. In addition to the commemorative jersey patches, a field badge bearing the Celtics’ shamrock logo with the No. 6 will be placed near the scorer’s table in each arena.
“Bill’s actions on and off the court throughout his life have helped shape generations of players for the better and for that we are eternally grateful,” said National Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio. Basketball Players Association. “We are proud to continue celebrating his life and legacy alongside the league.”
Russell’s number 6 had previously been retired by the University of San Francisco, where he won NCAA titles in 1955 and 1956, and the Celtics, with whom he played his entire 13-year NBA career from 1956 to 1969.
The league-wide jersey retirement is just the latest honor to recognize a storied career. While at USF, Russell was a two-time All-American and the 1955 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player. After winning a gold medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Russell was a five-time MVP, 12 times all-star and 11-time all-NBA with the Celtics.
Following his retirement, Russell was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and coach, was named to the NBA’s 25th, 35th, 50th, and 75th Anniversary Teams, and received the League’s Achievement Award. in 2017.
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