As the new NBA season kicked off last night, many may have noticed the number six black patches on all the players’ jerseys. That patch honors the late great Bill Russell, who was not only a legend on the court but a true icon off of it as well.
Before Tuesday night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Boston Celtics held a moment of silence as a tribute to Russell, and afterward, Jaylen Brown said a few words.
“Bill Russell was a great man, but what defined his greatness,” Brown asked the crowd. “Who he was as a mentor, a father, a member of his community, and most certainly his eleven championships here in Boston both playing and coaching, but undoubtedly, Bill Russell was a great man for what and who he stood for. During the peak of racial tension in our society, he represented a type of nobility and honor that transcended sports.
“The amount of respect that he receives from his people will live on eternally, and I’m grateful to be able to shake his hand. He was a true champion both on and off the floor, and our gratitude is endless. I started off by saying Bill Russell was a great man; in closing, Bill Russell was the greatest of men in the NBA, this organization, and this world was very lucky to have him. May he rest in peace.”Russell’s impact throughout the NBA will be felt for many decades to come. This is a huge reason League Commissioner Adam Silver considers Russell “the founding father of the modern NBA.” Russell’s legacy will forever live on in the hearts of not only those within the NBA but the fans and the next generation of basketball talent coming up too.
Russell’s No. 6 will not only be a patch on every player’s jersey, but the Silver announced Russell’s number would be retired by every team across the League. This is the ultimate tribute and the most significant sign of admiration and respect that is only fitting for someone like Bill Russell. Echoing Brown’s words, may he rest in peace and may his legacy continue to live on.