Late NBA Legend Bill Russell Makes History One More Time

Bill Russell’s No. 6 jersey is being retired throughout the NBA, a primary for the league.

The NBA and the Nationwide Basketball Gamers Affiliation introduced Thursday that the quantity worn by the 11-time champion, civil rights activist and individual adequate to be enshrined within the Basketball Corridor of Fame as each a participant and a coach was being completely retired by all 30 groups.

“Bill Russell’s unparalleled success on the court and pioneering civil rights activism deserve to be honored in a unique and historic way,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver mentioned. “Permanently retiring his No. 6 across every NBA team ensures that Bill’s transcendent career will always be recognized.”

Gamers who at the moment put on No. 6 — together with the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James — could proceed doing so. However the quantity can’t be issued once more, the league mentioned.

All NBA gamers will put on a patch on the appropriate shoulder of their jerseys this season, the league mentioned, and each NBA courtroom will show a clover-shaped brand with the No. 6 on the sideline close to the scorer’s desk.

The Boston Celtics have “separate and unique recognition for him on their uniforms” deliberate, the NBA mentioned.

The 1969 sport worn jersey of Boston Celtics’ legend Bill Russell is displayed together with different memorabilia set to go up for public sale, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, in Boston. Basketball followers hoping to purchase one thing from Bill Russell’s memorabilia assortment ought to count on some big-name competitors. Corridor of Famers Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley say they’re serious about bidding on objects that Russell is promoting off. A web-based public sale with 429 heaps started final week and can culminate in a stay occasion on the TD Backyard on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021. (AP Picture/Charles Krupa)

Russell died on July 31 on the age of 88. He was probably the most prolific winner in NBA historical past, an 11-time champion throughout a 13-year profession — successful the final two of these titles as a player-coach — and the primary Black coach in any of the most important U.S. professional sports activities to win a championship.

He marched with Martin Luther King Jr., stood with Muhammad Ali and acquired the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

And having his quantity retired league-wide places him in a really unique membership.

Main League Baseball completely retired No. 42 — in honor of Jackie Robinson, who broke the massive league’s coloration barrier — with the understanding that those that had been sporting that quantity may proceed to take action. Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees was the final within the majors to put on No. 42, doing so by his remaining season in 2013.

The NHL, upon Wayne Gretzky’s retirement in 1999, mentioned his No. 99 can be retired league-wide in honor of that sport’s all-time scoring chief.

And now, Russell will get the identical therapy. It additionally appears becoming that he and Robinson — each barrier-breakers — are linked once more. Russell known as Robinson a hero, as soon as saying that “he showed me the way to be a man in professional sports.”

Robinson, clearly, held Russell in excessive esteem as properly. Rachel Robinson, his widow, requested Russell to be a pallbearer at her husband’s funeral in 1972.

“This is a momentous honor reserved for one of the greatest champions to ever play the game,” NBPA Government Director Tamika Tremaglio mentioned. “Bill’s actions on and off the court throughout the course of his life helped to shape generations of players for the better and for that, we are forever grateful. We are proud to continue the celebration of his life and legacy alongside the league.”

There have been greater than 250 gamers in NBA historical past to put on a No. 6 jersey, together with 24 who did so in a minimum of one sport final season — most notably, James, who has alternated between 6 and 23 all through his NBA profession.

No one has worn No. 6 for the Celtics since Russell’s remaining season, 1968-69.

Russell is considered one of 12 gamers at the moment enshrined within the Basketball Corridor of Fame who wore No. 6 at a minimum of some level of their careers. The others: Julius Erving, Patrick Ewing, Ben Wallace, Don Barksdale, Chuck Cooper, Larry Costello, Tom Gola, Cliff Hagan, Alex Hannum, Buddy Jeanette and Neil Johnston.