Russell, who died on July 31 at the age of 88, won 11 NBA titles with the Boston Celtics and became the first player on all 30 teams to retire his numbers.
“Bill Russell’s unparalleled success on the court and pioneering civil rights activism should be honored in a unique and historic way,” League Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement announcing the news.
“Permanently retiring your No. 6 on every NBA team ensures that the Bills’ outstanding career will always be recognized,” Silver added.
“This is a significant honor reserved for one of the greatest champions the sport has ever played,” NBPA Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio said in a statement announcing the news.
The league is not only retiring Russell’s number, but also plans to honor the five-time MVP by placing a commemorative patch on the right shoulder of the teams’ jerseys, all the while with court number 6 in the shape of a clover. logo will be displayed. On the edge near the scorer’s table.
Russell is the most successful player in NBA history and was the first black head coach in the league.
‘He inspired me to be a better person’
A prominent civil rights activist, he marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963, denouncing racial segregation and advocating for Muhammad Ali’s refusal to be drafted into the Vietnam War.
NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told CNN’s Don Lemon on Monday, “He became a role model when I realized that some of the things that scare me and bother me about race relations in America are things were.”
“He gave me a way to speak about it that had all the elements of trying to do something better, not just getting angry,” said Abdul-Jabbar, who has been friends with Russell for 60 years.
In the 1950s, Russell accused the largely white NBA of deliberately excluding black players, and in 1964 became part of the league’s all-black starting lineup.
Despite his achievements on the court, Russell was subjected to racist insults as a player, while his family faced threats, sabotage, and vandalism.
“He inspired me to be a better person to deal with situations,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “Bill showed the world what class is about.”
CNN’s Don Lemon and George Ramsay contributed reporting to this post.