The eleven-time NBA champion and civil rights pioneer, Bill Russell, has left such a strong legacy behind him that he will be the first player to have his number retired across the NBA.
The league and its Players Association announced today that in honor of the iconic NBA Player and Hall of Famer, the NBA is permanently retiring his jersey number 6, across the league. In other words, there will be no more No. 6 jerseys given out throughout the NBA, ever again.
“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. “Permanently retiring his No. 6 across every NBA team ensures that Bill’s transcendent career will always be recognized.”
Russell, who wore No. 6 his entire 13-season career from 1956-69, was not only one of the greatest champions to ever play the game, but also a pioneer who significantly helped shape generations of players for the better throughout his actions on and off the court. NBPA Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio is “proud to continue the celebration of his life and legacy alongside the league.”
Russell died at the age of 88 Sunday.
What happens with LeBron James and No.6?
We know what you’re thinking. What happens with LeBron James and other NBA players wearing the No. 6 jersey? Will they have to retire it?
Good news. While Russell’s jersey number will not be issued again, players who currently wear No. 6, aka King James, will be grandfathered.
That’s a collective breath James’ fans can all take.
In addition to retiring Russell’s number, the NBA will pay him tribute throughout the 2022-23 season. All NBA players will wear a commemorative patch on their jerseys, and every NBA court will display a clover-shaped logo with the No. 6 on the sideline. The Boston Celtics, whom Russell both played for his whole career and coached, will recognize him separately and acknowledge his legacy in a unique way that is yet to be announced.
There was really nobody like Russell.