No more NBA player will be able to ask to wear the number 6 of the legendary Bill Russell.
The NBA and the NBA Players Association made the joint announcement on Thursday of the permanent removal of the number of the man who has won 11 championships in addition to fighting for human rights.
He becomes the first player to have his number retired NBA-wide.
Russell shone enough to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and coach.
Former Boston Celtics star Russell died July 31 at age 88. He played 13 seasons and was part of championship teams 11 times.
« Russell’s unparalleled success on the court and his actions in the fight for human rights deserve to be honored in a unique and historic way, » NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. Retiring his number 6 permanently and from all NBA teams helps ensure that Bill’s transcendent career will always be recognized. »
Players currently wearing number 6 — including Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James — will be able to continue to do so. He will no longer be available to other players, however, the league explained.
All NBA players will wear a No. 6 crest on their jerseys this season and all courts will have a shamrock with Russell’s No. 6 painted near the scorer’s table.
The Celtics plan to “uniquely and separately honor (Russell) on their uniform,” the NBA added.
In major league baseball, the number 42 is retired for all teams, in honor of Jackie Robinson. In the NHL, the same honor went to Wayne Gretzky’s 99.