When former Boston Celtics legendary center Bill Russell passed away in July, the basketball world and the Los Angeles Lakers united in order to honor his legacy.
One way the NBA will pay tribute to the 11-time champion’s legacy on and off the court is by permanently retiring his No. 6 jersey.
No one will ever be issued 6 again, although players that currently wear it like Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James will be grandfathered in so they do not have to change.
When Kyle Goon of the Southern California New Group asked James after practice on Friday for his thoughts on honoring Russell by wearing No. 6 and the relationship he had with the jersey number, the four-time champion put things into perspective for the entire basketball community:
“It wasn’t a shock, it’s what should have happened,” James said of the NBA retiring Russell’s number. “He meant so much to the game. Not only to the Boston Celtics, but the NBA in general and also off the floor as well. He contributed to the black community, activism, his speaking, his mind, you know everything he meant to the game. It was always a treat seeing him at games, having an opportunity to win championships and seeing him up on the panel and give me the Bill Russell Award was one of the most delightful moments of my career because I know what he meant to the game and to the history. It is pretty cool and for me to continue to build on his legacy wearing six this year to honor his legacy.”
James decided to switch from No. 23 to 6 last season, going back to the number he wore with the Miami Heat.
In the first year since Russell’s passing, James will look to honor his legacy by getting the Lakers back to the postseason and championship mix wearing his No. 6 jersey.
James plans on playing more preseason games this year
While the NBA preseason may not matter to some, it can indicate where the team is currently at before the regular season tips off. The Lakers faithful saw this last season, as the team finished the preseason going 0-6 before later having a disappointing 33-49 record in the regular season.
With the new regime and culture set by head coach Darvin Ham, the plan is to have James play more games during the preseason this year.
The preseason is a time to start a rhythm and build cohesiveness on the hardwood. With the potential of James playing more for the Purple and Gold, the chances of the team getting into mid-season stride early increase with the four-time champion getting his legs under him early in October.
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