The NBA and NBPA announced Thursday that Bill Russell’s No. 6 jersey will be retired across the NBA, a first for the league.
Players who currently wear No. 6 may continue doing so, but the number cannot be issued again. Nobody has worn No. 6 for the Celtics since Russell’s final season, 1968-69. Boston retired Russell’s No. 6 in 1972.
Current players who wore No. 6 jersey in 2021-22 (team/status listed in parenthesis):
• LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers)
• Alex Caruso (Chicago Bulls)
• Kristaps Porzingis (Washington Wizards)
• Lou Williams (Atlanta Hawks | Free agent)
• Lance Stephenson (Indiana Pacers)
• Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Utah Jazz)
• Hamidou Diallo (Detroit Pistons)
• Bryn Forbes (Denver Nuggets | Signed with Minnesota in offseason)
• Quentin Grimes (New York Knicks)
• Jalen McDaniels (Charlotte Hornets)
• Jordan McLaughlin (Minnesota Timberwolves)
• Kenyon Martin Jr. (Houston Rockets)
• Moses Brown (Cleveland Cavaliers | Free agent)
• David Duke Jr. (Brooklyn Nets | Free agent )
• Melvin Frazier (Oklahoma City Thunder | Free agent)
• Keon Johnson (Portland Trail Blazers)
Russell is one of 12 players enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame who wore No. 6 at 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.
The NBA and NBPA announced today that they will honor the life and legacy of 11-time NBA champion and civil rights pioneer Bill Russell by permanently retiring his uniform number, 6, throughout the league.
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) August 11, 2022
Major League Baseball permanently retired No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, while the NHL permanently retired Wayne Gretzky’s No. 99.
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 No. 6 and 23 throughout his NBA career.
Russell, who died on July 31 at the age of 88, was the most prolific winner in NBA history, an 11-time champion during a 13-year career, and the first Black coach in any of the major U.S. pro sports to win a championship.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.