The NBA Will Retire Bill Russell’s No. 6 Jersey As A Tribute To The 11-time Champion
On Thursday, the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced that the No.6 jersey of Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Russell will be permanently retired throughout the league.
During his playing career, Russell won 11 NBA titles with the Boston Celtics, becoming the first player at the age of 88 to have his number retired by all 30 NBA teams with his death on July 31 at the age of 88.
“Bill Russell’s unparalleled success on the court and pioneering civil rights activism merit to be honored in a unique and historic way”, league commissioner Adam Silver said in a release announcing the news of Russell’s death.
Silver added that permanently retiring Bill’s No. 6 across every NBA team will ensure that he will always be remembered for his transcendent career in the NBA.
I am honored to be able to share this momentous honor with one of the greatest champions to ever play the game,” Tamika Tremaglio, executive director of the NBPA, stated in a statement announcing the news.
The actions Bill took throughout the course of his life, both on and off the court, helped to shape generations of players for the better, and for that, we are forever grateful for all that he did.
As we celebrate his life and legacy along with the league, Tremaglio said, “we are proud to continue to celebrate his life and legacy.”
The league is not only retiring Russell’s number, but it also plans to honor the five-time MVP by having a commemorative patch emblazoned on the right shoulder of the teams’ jerseys as well, while all courts will be decorated with a clover-shaped logo with the number 6.
More Read The Basketball Legend Bill Russell Has Died At The Age Of 88 After Winning A Record 11 NBA Titles
As you approach the scorer’s table on the sideline, there is a marker for number 6.
Aside from being the most successful player in NBA history, Russell was the first Black head coach in the league’s history.
He has decided to permanently retire his number in the same way that Major League Baseball has done so with baseball trailblazer Jackie Robinson’s number in 1997 when the league made the same decision.
The picture above shows Russell driving to the basket against the Lakers during the team’s final NBA playoff game in 1969, which the Celtics won and retained their title as champions.
On the court, Russell reigned supreme, but his work away from the court was just as celebrated as his accomplishments on the court.
As a prominent civil rights activist, he marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963, condemned racial segregation, and advocated for Muhammad Ali to refuse to serve in the Vietnam War as a result of his refusal to be drafted.
It was when I realized that he addressed some of the issues that bothered me about race relations in America, that I began to see him as a role model,” NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told CNN’s Don Lemon on Monday that he became a role model for him.
In addition to giving me a way to talk about it that had all the elements of trying to make something better, rather than just being angry, Abdul-Jabbar, who had a 60-year friendship with Russell, said:
It was in the 1950s when Russell accused the largely-white NBA of excluding Black players deliberately, and in 1964 he became a member of the league’s first all-Black starting lineup.
In spite of the fact that Russell was a successful player, he was subjected to racist insults as a player, and his family endured threats, break-ins, and vandalism as well.
I was inspired by him to be a better man by the way he dealt with situations … without giving in to all of the anger and rage that he may have felt at the time,” Abdul-Jabbar said of his mentor.
There is no doubt that Bill showed the world what class is all about.”