Posts Tagged ‘Bill Russell’

Bill Russell’s No. 6 jersey is being retired across the NBA, a first for the league.

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association announced Thursday that the number worn by the 11-time champion, civil rights activist and person good enough to have been enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach was being permanently retired by all 30 teams.

“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. “Permanently retiring his No. 6 across every NBA team ensures that Bill’s transcendent career will always be recognized.”

Players who currently wear No. 6 — including the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James — may continue doing so. But the number cannot be issued again, the league said.

All NBA players will wear a patch on the right shoulder of their jerseys this season, the league said, and every NBA court will display a clover-shaped logo with the No. 6 on the sideline near the scorer’s table.

The Boston Celtics have “separate and unique recognition for him on their uniforms” planned, the NBA said.

Russell died on July 31 at the age of 88. He was the most prolific winner in NBA history, an 11-time champion during a 13-year career — winning the last two of those titles as a player-coach — and the first Black coach in any of the major U.S. pro sports to win a championship.

He marched with Martin Luther King Jr., stood with Muhammad Ali and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

And having his number retired leaguewide puts him in a very exclusive club.

Major League Baseball permanently retired No. 42 — in honor of Jackie Robinson, who broke the big league’s color barrier — with the understanding that those who were wearing that number could continue to do so. Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees was the last in the majors to wear No. 42, doing so through his final season in 2013.

The NHL, upon Wayne Gretzky’s retirement in 1999, said his No. 99 would be retired leaguewide in honor of that sport’s all-time scoring leader.

And now, Russell gets the same treatment. It also seems fitting that he and Robinson — both barrier-breakers — are linked again. Russell called Robinson a hero, once saying that “he showed me the way to be a man in professional sports.”

Robinson, clearly, held Russell in high esteem as well. Rachel Robinson, his widow, asked Russell to be a pallbearer at her husband’s funeral in 1972.

“This is a momentous honor reserved for one of the greatest champions to ever play the game,” NBPA Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio said. “Bill’s actions on and off the court throughout the course of his life helped to shape generations of players for the better and for that, we are forever grateful. We are proud to continue the celebration of his life and legacy alongside the league.”

There have been more than 250 players in NBA history to wear a No. 6 jersey, including 24 who did so in at least one game last season — most notably, James, who has alternated between 6 and 23 throughout his NBA career.

Nobody has worn No. 6 for the Celtics since Russell’s final season, 1968-69.

Russell is one of 12 players currently enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame who wore No. 6 at at least some point in their careers. The others: Julius Erving, Patrick Ewing, Ben Wallace, Don Barksdale, Chuck Cooper, Larry Costello, Tom Gola, Cliff Hagan, Alex Hannum, Buddy Jeanette and Neil Johnston.

Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson believes the best way to honor the late Bill Russell is to retire his No. 6 jersey league-wide.

While the NBA has never done such a thing for a player, it’s not entirely unknown.

Major League Baseball paid homage to Jackie Robinson by permanently retiring the African-American’s number 25 years after his death.

Robinson’s widow, Rachel, asked Russell to be a pallbearer at her husband’s funeral as he was Jackie’s favorite athlete.

Both Russell’s and Robinson’s legacy extended beyond their respective field of play. The Boston Celtics icon was a champion of activism long before his Hall of Fame career as a player and coach.

In 2011, Russell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Barack Obama.

“In every generation people make a difference not only with their play, but also with their persona,” Lakers great Jerry West recently told Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times. “Bill Russell and Jackie Robinson were in that same class.”

Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell has died at the age of 88, his family announced Sunday on social media.

Russell is widely considered one of the best to ever play the game. As a 6-foot-10 center, he was the face of the Celtics dynasty in the late ’50s and throughout the ’60s. He earned 12 All-Star selections, 11 titles, 11 All-NBA nods, and five MVP awards over his 13-year playing career in Boston.

He succeeded the legendary Red Auerbach as the Celtics’ bench boss late in his career, serving as a player-coach from 1966 to 1969. By doing so, Russell became the first Black head coach in North American pro sports history.

Russell remains the franchise’s all-time leader in rebounds, win shares, and defensive win shares. The Hall of Famer also ranks fifth on the club’s list in triple-doubles, sixth in assists, and eighth in points. The Celtics retired his No. 6 jersey in March 1972.

“Bill Russell was the greatest champion in all of team sports,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “The countless accolades that he earned for his storied career with the Boston Celtics – including a record 11 championships and five MVP awards – only begin to tell the story of Bill’s immense impact on our league and broader society.”

The NBA renamed the Finals MVP trophy after Russell in 2009. He was selected to the league’s 25th, 35th, 50th, and 75th-anniversary teams.

Before making the leap to the Association, Russell starred at the collegiate level for San Francisco. The big man and then-future Celtics teammate K.C. Jones led the Dons to their only national championships in 1955 and 1956.

Russell was the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player during the school’s first title run and the WCC’s Player of the Year the following season. As with the Celtics, the former No. 2 overall pick is still San Francisco’s all-time rebounding leader and is among seven Dons players with their jersey in the rafters.

Incline Village (United States) (AFP) – NBA Hall-of-Famer Bill Russell was hospitalized Thursday after collapsing during a corporate speaking event at a resort town on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

The Boston Celtics released a statement saying that the 80-year-old Russell is conscious and recovering in a Nevada hospital, and is hopeful that he will be able to fly back to his Seattle-area home Thursday.

According to witnesses, Russell began to feel faint while making his speech and fell to the floor before being carried out of the Hyatt Regency hotel on a stretcher.

Russell was arrested nine months ago after airport officials in Seattle found him trying to board a flight with a loaded hand gun in his carry-on luggage.

Russell later apologized saying he accidently left the .38-calibre Smith & Wesson in his bag.

Russell won 11 NBA titles during a brilliant 13-year career with the Celtics from 1956-69, serving the final three seasons as a player-coach. The former centre was selected as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history in 1996.