The NBA has announced the league-wide retirement of Bill Russell’s No. 6 jersey. Russell is the first player in league history to have his jersey retired leaguewide.

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In addition to the number of retirement, each player in the league will wear a commemorative patch on the right shoulder of their jerseys during the upcoming symbol. ESPN notes each court will have a shamrock-shaped logo with Russell’s number on the sideline of each scorer table.

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


Players like LeBron James, Alex Caruso, and Lou Williams, who previously wore No. 6, can continue to do so. The Celtics are planning their own recognition on the uniforms of its players.

Bill Russell died last month at the age of 88.

Russell, widely considered one of the greatest players in basketball history, won eight straight championships with the Celtics and 11 overall during his career. Russell was also the NBA’s first Black head coach. Russell won a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics and two NCAA Championships.

As a member of the Celtics, Russell played in 12 championships, won five MVPs, and was a 12-time All-Star. In his career, Russell had 21,620 rebounds while also averaging 15.1 points and 4.3 assists.

“From boycotting a 1961 exhibition game to unmask too-long tolerated discrimination, to leading Mississippi’s first integrated basketball camp in the combustible wake of Medgar Evans’ assassination, to decades of activism ultimately recognized by his receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010, Bill called out injustice with an unforgiving candor that he intended would disrupt the status quo, and with a powerful example that, though never his humble intention, will forever inspire teamwork, selflessness and thoughtful change,” his family said in a statement. “Bill’s wife, Jeannine, and his many friends and family thank you for keeping Bill in your prayers. Perhaps you’ll relive one or two of the golden moments he gave us, or recall his trademark laugh as he delighted in explaining the real story behind how those moments unfolded. And we hope each of us can find a new way to act or speak up with Bill’s uncompromising, dignified and always constructive commitment to principle. That would be one last, and lasting, win for our beloved #6.”

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Shawn Grant is a Chicago native and the Senior Editor of The Source Magazine. He can only be found on Instagram and Twitter at @shawnxgrant.

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