Earlier this year, the basketball community lost an icon, Hall of Famer Bill Russell, at 88 years old.
The NBA announced before the season that they would honor him throughout the league with the 30 teams. Every NBA jersey will feature a patch with the number six during the 2022-23 season.
“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. “Permanently retiring his No. 6 across every NBA team ensures that Bill’s transcendent career will always be recognized.”
“This is a momentous honor reserved for one of the greatest champions to ever play the game,” NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio said in a statement.
“Bill’s actions on and off the court throughout the course of his life helped shape generations of players for the better,d for that; we are forever grateful for that. We are proud to continue celebrating his life and legacy alongside the league.”
Others have also weighed in on the Celtics legend’s passing loss.
Jason Kidd shared with SI that he’s known Russell since he was ten years old.
“I think it’s incredible that we have an opportunity to honor Bill Russell. Unfortunately, we did lose a great man, but sometimes we should think about honoring people when they are still around, but it’s still the right thing to do, to retire No. 6,” said Kidd.
“I’ve known Bill since I was ten years old,” Kidd continued. “I’ve been very fortunate to have met him when I was a little kid in the Bay Area because of Jim Hadnot [Hadnot is Kidd’s God Father and a friend of Russell].
While living in Seattle, Jamal Crawford spent a lot of time with Russell, who lived in the Seattle suburbs of Mercer Island in Washington State. Their friendship grew over the years.
“Our friendship has grown over the past few years. It went from a friendship to mentorship for me to be able to reach & ask him questions,” said Crawford.
Former Celtics forward Ryan Hollins also shared his thoughts on the loss of Russell.
“That hurt Bill Russell, and what was appreciated was that many people got to go back at his impact on the game of basketball. The civil rights movement kind of what he had to go through and really an ambassador of the game. It definitely hurt losing Bill Russell, but you were able to see his impact and give him more roses then he’s already had,” said Hollins.
“When I was little, that was when the iconic Bill Russell verse Wilt Chamberlain battles happened, and that is like the only NBA basketball I got to watch. When those two guys were playing, I was a Wilt Chamberlain fan. So, I never liked him, but Bill Russell, as strong as he was on the court, was even more special off the court,” said Mark Cuban.
The NBA is celebrating Russell with the patches on the jersey, but how else can the NBA commemorate the legend?
“I think for him, it was dealing with social issues in every NBA city. Naturally, It’s an ever-going battle and a long way to go. He stood up for what he believed in and didn’t pull any punches, and he was straight up with everything he did. The best way we can remember him is by impacting your community, and I think the Mavs are doing a great job with that,” said Cuban.
Before the first game of the season, the Celtics held the first of two ceremonies scheduled this season to remember Russell since his death on July 31 at the age of 88. A second celebration will take place on Feb. 12, Russell’s birthday.