The NBA has announced it will permanently retire the No. 6 jersey throughout the league in honor of the late NBA legend Bill Russell. Russell becomes the first player in NBA history to have his jersey number retired across the league.
Russell wore the No. 6 during his distinguished 13-year career with the Boston Celtics from 1956 to 1969. He won 11 NBA Championships and established himself as one of the greatest centers ever to play the game, but also provided trailblazing work as a civil rights activist throughout his life. Russell died July 31 at the age of 88.
In a press release announcing the jersey retirement, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the honor is a way to honor Russell’s legacy forever.
“Bill Russell’s unparalleled success on the court and pioneering civil rights activism deserve to be honored in a unique and historic way. Permanently retiring his No. 6 across every NBA team ensures that Bill’s transcendent career will always be recognized.”
National Basketball Players Association executive director Tamika Tremaglio released this statement about the decision:
“This is a momentous honor reserved for one of the greatest champions to ever play the game. Bill’s actions on and off the court throughout the course of his life helped to shape generations of players for better and for that, we are forever grateful. We are proud to continue the celebration of his life and legacy alongside the league.”
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the NBA will also honor Russell in multiple ways during the 2022-2023 season. Players will wear a patch on the right shoulder of their jerseys and every arena’s court will display a clover-shaped logo with the No. 6.
Bill Russell becomes the first player in NBA history to have his jersey retired across the league. All NBA players will also wear a patch on the right shoulder of their jerseys during 2022-23 season, and every arena's court will display a clover-shaped logo with No. 6. https://t.co/bhNSldVKz0— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 11, 2022
Charania also reported that players who currently wear No. 6 will be “grandfathered.”