The No. 6 jersey of Bill Russell, the most prolific winner in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA), will permanently retire for the first time since the league opened.
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced on Friday that Russell’s No. 6 will permanently retire every NBA team to honor his achievements and legacies as he died last Monday. While all NBA players will join to commemorate his death with a patch on the right shoulder of their jerseys, a clover-shaped logo with the No. 6 on it will be displayed on every NBA court this season. The clover-shaped logo symbolized his team, the Boston Celtics. Back in 1972, the team retired the No. 6 permanently.
Even after the No. 6 retires leaguewide, 24 incumbent NBA players including Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James are allowed to keep wearing the No. 6 until they move to another team or retire the league. Also, the No. 6 can permanently retire teamwide to honor one of these 24 players if any.
The Major League Baseball already had a similar case in 1997 when the No. 42 of Jackie Robinson, who helped break the race barrier, permanently retired the league. Afterwards, the New York Yankees permanently retired the No. 42 teamwide in 2013 when Mariano Rivera retired with the MLB's career leadership in saves (652).
Likewise, the North American Hockey League retired Wayne Gretzky's No. 99 throughout the league forever. Before Russell’s No. 6, only these two numbers were retired permanently across any North American professional sports league.
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