Every NBA uniform will be adorned with a No. 6 patch to honor former Celtic great Bill Russell, who passed away last July, the league announced Monday.
Current players wearing the No. 6 jersey, such as LeBron James and Alex Caruso can continue wearing the number, but it will not be issued to any new players.
Russell, a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team, played all 13 seasons of his career in Boston, winning 11 titles, appearing in 12 All-Star Games, and winning five MVPs.
Boston painted Russell’s No. 6 in the free throw lanes of the parquet floor as part of a season-long tribute planned for the Hall of Famer.
“The team has added the number 6 to both lanes to pay homage to Bill Russell’s dominant play in the paint,” said the Celtics Monday.
Be on the lookout for a special tribute to Bill Russell on the parquet this season ☘️ pic.twitter.com/Pt6IoZbekx
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 19, 2022
All NBA courts will display a number 6 decal on the sideline near the scorer’s table.
“We’ve heard things like ‘pioneer,’ ‘trailblazer,’” current Celtic Marcus Smart. “To mention, you know, Bill Russell and the impact that he brought to this game is undeniable.”
“The presence that Bill Russell had, not only on the court, but in the community, it’s something that will always be present, and he’ll always have a legacy because of that,” Celtics forward Grant Williams said, adding that Boston was his grandfather’s favorite team because of Russell. “I’m fortunate to be playing for this organization.”
“This is special knowing what Bill Russell meant to the league… This is a very special symbol of how far we’ve come, but also to keep his spirit alive,” said Steph Curry while sporting the new patch jersey at a press conference.
The news to honor Russell comes in the wake of a scandal for Boston, which put head coach Ime Udoka on a one-year suspension for engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a Celtics’ staff member.