NBA To Retire Bill Russell’s Number 6 Jersey League-Wide

by Mike Creef, Staff Writer
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The NBA announced they will be retiring the legendary Bill Russell’s number 6 league-wide.

Bill Russell will become the first player in NBA history to have his jersey retired across the league.

“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 in a press release. “Permanently retiring his No. 6 across every NBA team ensures that Bill’s transcendent career will always be recognized.”


The 11-time NBA champion and civil rights pioneer passed away at the age of 88 on July 31. Bill Russell played at a time when fellow Black players didn’t have locs or tattoos, they didn’t collect astronomical contracts, nor did they switch teams when the expectations to deliver became unbearable.

Russell played smack dab in the middle of the Civil Rights Era and excelled beyond imagination, all while playing in a town where he would never be wholly embraced.

On June 4, 1967 at 105-15 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland, a collection of some of the top black athletes in the country met with — and eventually held a news conference in support of — world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali (front row, second from left), about Ali’s refusal to be drafted into the U.S. Army in 1967. Photo: AP.

NBA retires Bill Russell jersey

In addition to retiring Russell’s number, the NBA will pay tribute to the Boston Celtics’ legend throughout the 2022-23 season. All NBA players will wear a commemorative patch on the right shoulder of their jerseys, and every NBA court will display a clover-shaped logo with the No. 6 on the sideline near the scorer’s table.

The Celtics, for whom Russell played his entire career and coached, will have a separate and unique recognition for him on their uniforms, to be announced soon.

Bill Russell, a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc. also achieved more in his time in the NBA than any player before or after him. A Hall of Famer, five-time Most Valuable Player and 12-time All-Star, Russell in 1980 was voted the greatest player in NBA history by basketball writers.

He remains the sport’s most decorated champion — he won two college titles and an Olympic gold medal. Russell’s Boston Celtics dynasty won 11 championships in 13 years, Russell earned his last two NBA titles as a player-coach — the first Black coach in any major U.S. sport.

Players who currently wear number 6, like Lakers superstar LeBron James, will be grandfathered.

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