Invoice 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 particular person ok to be enshrined within the Basketball Corridor of Fame as each a participant and a coach was being completely retired by all 30 groups.
“Invoice Russell’s unparalleled success on the court docket and pioneering civil rights activism should be honored in a novel and historic method,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stated. “Completely retiring his No. 6 throughout each NBA crew ensures that Invoice’s transcendent profession will at all times be acknowledged.”
Gamers who presently 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 stated.
All NBA gamers will put on a patch on the correct shoulder of their jerseys this season, the league stated, and each NBA court docket 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 distinctive recognition for him on their uniforms” deliberate, the NBA stated.
Russell died on July 31 on the age of 88. He was essentially 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 key 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 leaguewide 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 shade barrier — with the understanding that those that have been sporting that quantity might 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 way of his closing season in 2013.
The NHL, upon Wayne Gretzky’s retirement in 1999, stated his No. 99 can be retired leaguewide in honor of that sport’s all-time scoring chief.
And now, Russell will get the identical remedy. It additionally appears becoming that he and Robinson — each barrier-breakers — are linked once more. Russell referred to as Robinson a hero, as soon as saying that “he confirmed me the best way to be a person in skilled sports activities.”
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 can be a momentous honor reserved for one of many best champions to ever play the sport,” NBPA Government Director Tamika Tremaglio stated. “Invoice’s actions on and off the court docket all through the course of his life helped to form generations of gamers for the higher and for that, we’re without end grateful. We’re proud to proceed 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 not less than 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 closing season, 1968-69.
Russell is one in all 12 gamers presently enshrined within the Basketball Corridor of Fame who wore No. 6 at not less than 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.