NBA Announces Plans to Honor Celtics Legend League-Wide

Bill Russell

Getty Hall of Famer Bill Russell waves after being introduced during a 2019 WNBA game between the Minnesota Lynx and the Las Vegas Aces.

Ever since Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell passed away, NBA legends like Magic Johnson have been pulling for his no. 6 to be retired across the league. As it turns out, the league will abide by their wishes.

Shams Charania reported that the NBA will retire Russell’s number across the league, much like Jackie Robinson’s was across Major League Baseball, and Wayne Gretzky’s was across the National Hockey League.

Russell is the first NBA player to have his number retired league-wise. He is commemorated as a legend both because of his legacy as a player and because of his activism off the court.

Charania added that players will also wear a no. 6 patch on their jersey on the right shoulder of their jerseys to pay tribute to Russell. Also, every arena’s basketball court will display a clover-shaped logo with No. 6.

Such an announcement may make fans wonder what that means for players who currently wear the no. 6, like LeBron James.

Players Who Wear No. 6 Will Be Grandfathered

Charania added that players who wear the no. 6 like LeBron currently does for the Los Angeles Lakers will be grandfathered.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term grandfathered, it means that there will be an exemption that will people to continue doing what they are doing even with the addition of new rules. In this case, it means they can keep wearing the no. 6.

LeBron James is not the only one who wore the no. 6 during the 2021-22 season. Other players who wore no. 6 include the following:

-Kristaps Porzingis
-Alex Caruso
-Kenyon Martin Jr.
-Bryn Forbes
-Jalen McDaniels
-Quentin Grimes
-Nickeil Alexander-Walker
-Keon Johnson
-Hamidou Diallo
-David Duke Jr.
-Jordan McLaughlin

Other players like Lou Williams, Montrezl Harell, and Lance Stephenson also wore the no. 6, but all three of them are currently free agents whose futures in the league are to be determined until further notice.

Nothing has been reported as far as recent draftees who may want to wear the no. 6, but for now, it appears that they won’t be allowed to wear it.

League’s Statement on Retiring Russell’s Number

Following the announcement that Russell’s number will be retired league-wise, NBA higher-ups, including Commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio gave their own statements on their recent tribute to Russell.

Silver believes that doing so will ensure that Russell’s achievements, both on and off the court, will always get the recognition it deserves.

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

Tremaglio praised Russell’s impact on the NBA generations that came after him and how proud the league is for what he did.

“This is a momentous honor reserved for one of the greatest champions to ever play the game,” said NBPA Tremaglio.  “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.”

The only question long-term is, will Russell be the only NBA player whose number is retired league-wide?

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