You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Boston Celtics Star Bill Russell’s Jersey No. 6 Will Be The First Retired Across The NBA

Forbes 8/11/2022 Brian Bushard, Forbes Staff


Eleven-time NBA champion and civil rights leader Bill Russell’s jersey No. 6 will be retired across all 30 teams in the league, the NBA announced Thursday, one week after Russell’s death, making him the first player to receive the honor.

Late NBA great Bill Russell's jersey No. 6 will be the first number retired across the league. (Photo by Mansoor Ahmed/Getty Images) Getty Images © Provided by Forbes Late NBA great Bill Russell's jersey No. 6 will be the first number retired across the league. (Photo by Mansoor Ahmed/Getty Images) Getty Images

Key Facts

Players will also wear a patch with late Boston Celtics’ star center Russell’s No. 6 on the right shoulder of their jerseys for the upcoming 2022-23 season, the NBA and NBA Players Association announced in a joint statement Thursday.

Russell will become the third player to have their number retired across an American professional sports league, following Jackie Robinson, whose No. 42 was retired across the MLB in 1997, 50 years after he broke baseball’s color barrier in his rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and Wayne Gretzky, whose No. 99 was retired across the NHL.

All 30 NBA teams will also display the Celtics’ clover-shaped logo with Russell’s No. 6 on the sideline, the league wrote in a statement.

Crucial Quote

“Bill Russell’s unparalleled success on the court and pioneering civil rights activism deserve to be honored in a unique and historic way,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement on Thursday. “Permanently retiring his No. 6 across every NBA team ensures that Bill’s transcendent career will always be recognized.”

Key Background

Russell’s 11 championships in his 13-year career between 1956 and 1969 is not only an NBA record, but is tied for the most championships across all American professional sports leagues – tied with Montreal Canadiens’ Henri Richard. He was a five-time league MVP, and later became a coach for the Seattle SuperSonics and Sacramento Kings (he was a player coach in his final three years with the Celtics). Russell was also a prominent figure in the civil rights movement. In 1961, he led a protest when two Black teammates were denied service at a cafe in Lexington, Kentucky. Two years later, he stood with boxer Muhammad Ali, after he refused to serve in the Vietnam War. In 2011, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Barack Obama.

Further Reading

Bill Russell—11-Time NBA Champion And First Black Head Coach—Dies At 88 (Forbes)

Bill Russell's No. 6 to be retired across NBA following legend's death last month (ESPN)

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon