( ENSPIRE Sports ) NBA Makes History by Retiring the Late Boston Celtics Star’s No. 6 Jersey
ENSPIRE Contributor: Claya Davis
In a statement issued Thursday, August 11, The National Basketball Association announced that they would no longer assign number 6 jerseys in honor of Bill Russell, the legendary Boston Celtics center. While individual pro teams have honored their players’ lives similarly, this is a particularly monumental event because, as stated by the NBA on Twitter, “The iconic Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer will be the first player to have his number retired across the NBA.”
On July 31, mere hours after his passing was announced, the NBA released an official team statement, expressing their condolences and stating that “Bill Russell‘s DNA is woven through every element of the Celtics organization, from the relentless pursuit of excellence to the celebration of team rewards over individual glory, to a commitment to social justice and civil rights off the court.”
Winning an impressive 11 championships across 13 seasons and a Gold medal for the U.S Olympic Men’s Basketball team in 1956, Russell’s career and passion for his sport are certainly worthy of this kind of recognition. Along with his playing achievements, Russell also made history in 1966 when he was hired by the Celtics, becoming the first Black coach in NBA history.
The NBA star’s acclaim and impact also extended far beyond the basketball court. As a civil rights activist and social advocate, Russell marched for equality alongside venerated figure Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1967. He also supported Muhammad Ali’s controversial opposition to the Vietnam War. In honor of these efforts, President Obama honored Russel with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010.
While NBA players in the league who currently wear the number 6 jersey will be exempt from this new rule, each team member will adorn their jersey with a commemorative patch during the rest of the 2022-2023 season. To honor Russell further, next to the scorer’s table on the sideline of every NBA court will be a “lover-shaped logo” with the No. 6 imprinted on it.
To learn more about Bill Russell’s life and legacy, click here.
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