NBA Retires Late Bill Russell’s No. 6 Jersey Across the League

Bill Russell at the 3rd annual NBA Awards in 2019
Bill Russell at the 3rd annual NBA Awards in 2019. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI/Shutterstock (12595195q)

The NBA will honor the late basketball legend Bill Russell by retiring his No. 6 jersey across the league. This means that no player from any of the 30 NBA teams will be able to choose this number in the future. Russell is the first player in the history of the league to receive such honor.

Besides jersey retirement, the NBA revealed several other ways in which it will honor Russell’s legacy and celebrate his contribution to the game of basketball. This includes a commemorative patch on the right side of the jersey for all players, as well as a No. 6 logo display on the court sidelines throughout the 2022-23 NBA season.

There have been 25 players last season wearing the No. 6 jersey, including the Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, the Washington Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis, and the Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso. They can continue doing so if they choose, but not a single player can take No. 6 as their new number.

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

Bill Russell is the most accomplished NBA player in the history of the game. He won 11 NBA championships, five MVP awards, and was a 12-time All-Star. Russell passed on July 31, 2022, at the age of 88.