BOSTON, MA – NOVEMBER 01: Boston Celtics Legend Bill Russell attends the statue unveiling in his honor at Boston City Hall Plaza by artist Ann Hirsch on November 1, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)
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After the death of Bill Russell, the NBA has retired the Celtics legend’s No. 6 league-wide, the first time in history that’s ever been done.
The NBA is still mourning the loss of one of basketball’s undeniable legends in Bill Russell after he passed away on July 31 at the age of 88 at his Washington home. There was an outpouring of love for the greatest winner in sports history from Boston Celtics fans and basketball fans as a collective.
But now the league has made a decision that will honor Bill Russell for as long as the league is around.
On Thursday, the league announced that Russell’s iconic No. 6 would be retired throughout the NBA, making Russell the first player in history to receive the league-wide honor of having his number retired.
The NBA will retire Bill Russell’s No. 6 league-wide, the league and NBPA announced.
Russell becomes the first player in NBA history to have his jersey retired across the Association. pic.twitter.com/vAwELYWjfa
— ESPN (@espn) August 11, 2022
Celtics fans, NBA Twitter show love to NBA for retiring Bill Russell’s number
The love that was shown for Russell after his death was continued further by fans around the league as they showed their appreciation and reverence for one of the all-time greats and to the league for honoring him in this way.
This is absolutely fabulous news!!! Recognizing Bill Russell for his value as one of the all-time greats of the game of basketball 🏀🐐, along with the great good he brought to the sport, the league, and American society as a human rights advocate is so good. #GOAT
Kudos @NBA!!! https://t.co/atooe4l26Z
— Phil Francisco 🇺🇸 🇵🇹 (@frisco0303) August 11, 2022
Respect to the pioneer and basketball legend that Bill Russell is to have this done. May his soul Rest In Peace and his legacy live on forever. https://t.co/A17eehqXxY
— Collins (@AnionDon) August 11, 2022
Russell’s accomplishments are near unparalleled in all of sports. During his illustrious career with the Celtics, he won 11 NBA Championships, including three as a player-coach. He was also a five-time MVP of the league.
Beyond that, though, Russell’s philanthropic endeavors were seemingly endless and wonderfully impactful. So much so that he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 by Barack Obama.
As for the retirement of his number, it was noted that players who already wear No. 6 — most notably LeBron James — will be grandfathered in and can continue to wear the number, but after they move on or change their number, it will never be worn again.
If anyone was going to be given this honor, it deserved to be Bill Russell.