The National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) have announced that Bill Russell’s jersey number, No. 6, will be permanently retired throughout the league to honor his legacy as an 11-time NBA champion and a civil rights pioneer.
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
Russell is the first player in NBA history to have his number retired across the league. Players that are currently wearing No.6 will be exempt and it’s their choice if they want to change their number. According to Basketball Reference, there were 25 players who used the number six in their jerseys in the 2021-22 season.
“Bill Russell’s unparalleled success on the court and pioneering civil rights activism deserve to be honored in a unique and historic way,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in a statement. “Permanently retiring his No. 6 across every NBA team ensures that Bill’s transcendent career will always be recognized.”
In addition, the league will pay tribute to Russell during the 2022-23 season with each player wearing a commemorative patch on the right shoulder of their jerseys. Also, every court will have a clover-shaped logo with the No. 6 on the sideline near the scorer’s table.
The Celtics will have a special tribute and recognition for their legend that will be announced soon.
Russell won 11 championships with the Celtics. five Most Valuable Player awards, 12 All-Star selections, and 11 All-NBA team honors in his 13-year career in the NBA. His achievements also go beyond his playing days, he was hired by the Celtics as the first Black head coach in the history of the NBA and major U.S. professional sports.
He was also an advocate for the values of equality, respect, and inclusion for the African-American community during the civil rights fight. In 2010, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his athletic feats and lifelong commitment to social justice.
The Celtics legend passed away recently at the age of 88.