As the player who has been with the Celtics the longest, Marcus Smart has spent enough time in Boston to appreciate what Bill Russell meant to the team, the city and the country.
“We hear words like ‘pioneer,’ ” Smart said Monday, wearing a patch to honor the Celtics player and Hall of Famer who died this summer. “By mentioning Bill Russell, there is no denying the impact he left on basketball.”
As the centerpiece of the Celtics’ dynasty that won 11 championships in 13 years, Russell, who passed away this summer at age 88, will be honored this season not only for his unparalleled success on the court, but a life committed to human rights. civilians. The NBA announced that it will retire the No. 6 throughout the league and all players will wear a patch with his number on the jersey.
The Celtics plan other tributes, including two nights to honor his legacy. The first will be on October 18, the first day of the season. They also painted No. 6 at the free throw line.
“The presence that Bill Russell had — not just on the court, but in the community — is something that will always be there and will always have that legacy,” Celtics forward Grant Williams said, adding that his father was a Boston fan because to Russell. “I’m lucky to play in this organization.”
Players who wore No. 6 before will be able to keep it. Nuggets center DeAndre Jordan is among those who will honor Russell’s legacy. (In 1997 Major League Baseball did the same when it retired Jackie Robinson’s 42. In the American League and National League, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera continued to wear the number until his retirement in 2013.)
Bulls guard Alex Caruso sought to change his number this season, but was told he had to keep it because his jersey is in the top 75 sellers.
In addition to the patch, teams will have the number 6 painted on the court next to the scoreboard.