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NBA announce retirement of Russell's No6 jersey league-wide
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Liam Phillips
Bill Russell being presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 by Barack Obama
Bill Russell being presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 by Barack Obama

The NBA have made the historic decision to retire the No6 from all franchises' jerseys to honour the legacy of Boston Celtics icon Bill Russell, who passed away on July 31 at 88.

It is the first time in history a jersey number has been retired league-wide. And in addition, every jersey and every home court in the 2022-23 season will feature a clover-shaped logo bearing the No6.

The league did confirm, however, that players already donning the number – including Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James – could continue to use it.

Russell holds the record for winning the most NBA Championships, collecting 11 rings from 1957 to 1969 while winning five league MVP awards.

Across his career, Russell averaged 15.1 points and 22.5 rebounds per game, and at nearly seven-feet tall while being a world-class high-jumper and sprinter, is considered arguably the sport's greatest ever defensive player.

Since 2009, the NBA Finals MVP award has been named after Russell.

While his competitive achievements place him amongst the greatest to ever lace up a pair of basketball shoes, his off-court legacy is just as significant, as he became one of the faces of the American civil rights movement.

Russell was regularly pictured with Martin Luther King Jr, Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the public faces of the campaign for civil rights in the United States. 

In 2011, then-president Barack Obama awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his accomplishments both on and off the court.

In a statement, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said: "Bill Russell's unparalleled success on the court and pioneering civil rights activism deserves to be honoured in a unique and historic way. 

"Permanently retiring his number six across every NBA team ensures that Bill's transcendent career will always be recognised."


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