The NBA world recently mourned the loss of legendary Boston Celtics big man Bill Russell. Following his passing, the NBA decided to retire his No. 6 jersey across the entire NBA, meaning no player will ever wear the number again.
Of course, there are many players who are currently in the NBA and wear the number, including Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James. Instead of forcing all of them to change their number, the league has instead decided that they can continue, and will simply be the last players to ever wear No. 6.
There were 25 players who wore the number last year and they will be the final ones to do so. LeBron is the most notable, but there are other well-known players as well including some former Lakers.
Alex Caruso with the Chicago Bulls, Montrezl Harrell with the Washington Wizards, Lance Stephenson with the Indiana Pacers and Lou Williams with the Atlanta Hawks all sported the number as well. Though Harrell was traded to the Charlotte Hornets and changed his number to 8 with his new team.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Moses Brown, Gabriel Deck, Hamidou Diallo, Bryn Forbes, Quentin Grimes, Kristaps Porzingis, Kenyon Martin Jr., Jalen McDaniels, Jordan McLaughlin and Keon Johnson are currently have the number and can keep it.
Shaq Buchanan, Zylan Cheathem, David Duke Jr. Melvin Frazier, Kevin Pangos, Javonte Smart, Rayjon Tucker, Luca Vildoza, and Tyrone Wallace round out the list of players who will be the last to sport the same number as the NBA legend.
The league deciding to retire the jersey across all teams makes a lot of sense as Russell was a true pioneer whose impact stretched well beyond the Celtics for whom he played. Russell broke barriers as one of the first African-American stars in the NBA and was extremely outspoken about the racial abuse and issues he dealt with. Russell was also the first African-American coach in NBA history.
Despite the immense issues that he dealt with, Russell would still become the winningest player ever, capturing 11 NBA Championships in 13 seasons. The league would eventually name the NBA Finals MVP Award after him in 2009 with Kobe Bryant being the first to capture that.
Jerry West puts Bill Russell in the same class as Jackie Robinson
Russell’s success on the court often came at the expense of the Lakers and their stars such as Elgin Baylor and Jerry West. Despite this, the respect that West has for Russell is unwavering.
West said Russell was in the same class as Jackie Robinson as far as a player making an impact both on and off the court for what they stood for. The Lakers legend would praise Russell for how he handled everything he went through and preached his admiration for the legendary human being.
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