The legendary NBA mega-superstar and activist, Bill Russell, passed away on July 31, 2022, at the octogenarian age of 88. Russel’s death – soon after it was announced by his family – sent the entire NBA society into a state of grief and mourning.
Bill Russell spent 13 years in the NBA as a player and a coach. He won 11 NBA championships as a player for the Boston Celtics. It was during Russell’s time that the Celtics won the NBA championship for 8 times in a row (1958 – 1966). Russell also won additional two championships for the Celtics as a coach in 1968 and 1969, after which he left to coach two other teams until 1988.
The star, undoubtedly, is one of the greatest men the NBA has ever witnessed in its 76 years of existence. And his sudden demise last week, indeed, warrants the grief and pain that people have shown and continue to show.
However, days after Russell died, there have been calls for the league to honor his legacy in a special way. Leading the charge is Magic Johnson, a 5-time NBA champion and former Los Angeles Lakers coach for a few months. Johnson wants the Commissioner of the NBA league, Adam Silver, to retire Russell’s No. 6 jersey across the league.
“Commissioner Adam Silver should retire number 6 across the @NBA in honor of Bill Russell’s legacy!,” Magic Johnson wrote in a tweet hours after Russell’s demise.
But Johnson is not the only one who wants the No. 6 to be retired. Many others, mostly NBA fans, also share the same position with him. Others too want Russell’s legacy to be honored in a different manner rather than retiring the No. 6 jersey across board.
In this article, NBA Republic gathers the top three ways that NBA fans believe their legend, Bill Russell, should be honored.
Retiring the No. 6 jersey from the NBA
Magic Johnson has become the first NBA veteran to call for this soon after Russell passed away. Though this demand exists for years; nothing has been said about it of late until Russell’s passing.
In fact, there is a precedent outside of the NBA league, and now, some NBA fans and veterans want the same to be replicated in the NBA.
In April 1997, some 25 years ago, Jackie Robinson’s No.42 was retired across the Major League Baseball (MLB). As a result, no MLB team has made their No. 42 jersey available to their players since that declaration. It is undoubtedly one of the best ways the MLB has honored, and continues to honor Robinson because of his achievements in and out of the league.
However, MLB’s amazing honor for Jackie Robinson, is what is being demanded by a section of NBA lovers, for Bill Russell. Though No. 6 has already been retired by the Boston Celtics since 1972, and Sacramento Kings since 1985; some want the number to be retired by all teams playing in the NBA.
“Please Commissioner consider retiring number 6 jersey in commemoration the Mr. William Felton Russell the Man and the Player. He was genuinely deserving. He represented the entire race exceptionally well,” a fan Sassy Chavella tweeted.
Bill Russell Day
A section of fans also believe that the NBA should declare December 22 of every year as Bill Russell Day. December 22, 1956, was the day Russell made his first NBA debut, and hence calls for that day to be declared Bill Russell Day.
In the MLB, April 15 is a day that all players wear Robinson’s retired No. 42 jersey to play in a match. This, they do to mark the day Robinson first entered the MLB as a professional player.
“Not sure about retiring it throughout the league. Instead have an annual Bill Russell day where every player plays in 6,” tweeted a fan.
Another section of fans are suggesting that the NBA logo should be redesigned with a silhouette of an image of Bill Russell.
The current logo, which was designed in 1969 by Alan Siegel, features a silhouette of Jerry West in action. Jerry West, 84, is a veteran basketball player and executive who worked mostly with the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, people think it’s time for the logo to be rebranded with a silhouette of Russell to honor his memory and enviable legacy.
Jerry West and Bill Russell are both recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Russell received his in the first term of President Obama’s presidency in 2011, while Jerry West received his in 2019 during the presidency of Donald J. Trump.
“The @NBA logo should be @RealBillRussell for what he meant to the game on and off the court back then. People talk…but he loved it here and worked…for the changes,” another saddened twitter user said.
Source: NBA Republic