The NBA is retiring Bill Russell’s No. 6 league-wide starting with the 2022-23 season. Russell passed away last month at 88 years old. Players who currently wear No. 6 will be allowed to keep doing so, but the league won’t issue No. 6 to anyone else ever again.
In addition to retiring Russell’s number league-wide, all NBA teams will also wear a patch on the right shoulder of their jerseys honoring Russell for next season. Every arena will also have a “clover-shaped logo with No. 6,” according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Russell’s No. 6 is the third jersey to be retired league-wide in one of the major American professional sports leagues. MLB has retired Jackie Robinson’s No. 42, and the NHL has retired Wayne Gretzky’s No. 99.
There are only three jersey numbers in American team sports that have been officially retired league-wide
MLB – Jackie Robinson’s 42
NHL – Wayne Gretzky’s 99
NBA – Bill Russell’s 6 pic.twitter.com/UjejbjmfPd
— SB Nation (@SBNation) August 11, 2022
Russell leaves behind a momentous legacy. He won 11 championships with the Boston Celtics as a player, and was named league MVP five times. He was also a player-coach for the Celtics for the last three years of his career. In addition to his work on the court, Russell is also a civil rights icon who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2011.
The league posted this tribute to Russell’s role in the Civil Rights Movement earlier this month:
In memory of Bill Russell, we celebrate the pioneers who fearlessly integrated our league, the legends who excelled against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, and stars of today using their platform to advocate for justice and equality.
— NBA (@NBA) August 2, 2022
LeBron James is the most notable No. 6 in the NBA today after changing from No. 23 last season. Here are the other players who wore No. 6 last year.
Russell is unquestionably one of the greatest and most important athletes in the history of American sports. For as long as the NBA exists, the No. 6 will never be issued to a new player ever again.
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