The NBA will retire Bill Russell’s No. 6 jersey for all 30 teams, the league and the National Basketball Players Association announced Thursday.
Russell becomes the first player in NBA history to have his jersey retired leaguewide.
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
Along with the number being retired, all players will wear a commemorative patch on the right shoulder of their jerseys during the 2022-23 season and every court will display a shamrock-shaped logo with Russell’s No. 6 on the sideline near the scorer’s table.
Starting with the 2022/23 season, no team will be allowed to issue No. 6 to any player. Players who currently wear No. 6, like LeBron James, may continue to do so.
According to Basketball Reference, 25 players, including James, Kristaps Porzingis, Alex Caruso, Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams, wore No. 6 last season.
The NBA has announced a league-wide retirement of the number 6 in honor of the late great Bill Russell.
As of last season, 25 players wore the number 6 and will be allowed to continue.
— Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) August 11, 2022
The league said plans for the Celtics, where Russell played all 13 years of his career, to honor Russell are still being determined and will be announced at a later date. Boston is planning a “separate and unique recognition” for Russell on its uniforms.
The NBA previously recognized Russell’s contributions when it named the Finals MVP Award after him in 2009.
Players who currently wear No. 6 will be allowed to keep doing so, according to the league, but Russell’s jersey number will not be issued again by any NBA team to any player.
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) August 11, 2022
Russell, an 11-time champion, died July 31 at the age of 88. During his 13-year playing career, Russell was named MVP five times and was an 11-time All-NBA selection.
He was named the Celtics’ player-coach in 1966, becoming the first Black head coach in American professional sports, and led Boston to back-to-back titles in 1968 and 1969.
Russell remains second all-time in NBA history in rebounds (21,620) and rebounds per game (22.5). He is also the all-time leading rebounder in NBA postseason history with 4,104 total boards and 24.9 rebounds per game.