BOSTON — In advance of the Celtics starting their 2022-23 NBA season against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night at TD Garden, the franchise honored the legacy and life of Bill Russell, the 11-time NBA champion and civil rights icon whose no. 6 was officially retired by the NBA following his death in the summer of.
“Bill Russell was a great man,” Celtics star Jaylen Brown stated in an honorary pregame ceremony for Russell. “But what was that referring to what was the definition of his excellence? What did he represent as a teacher, a father, and a part of his community and most certainly the 11 championships he won in Boston in both his playing as well as coaching?
“But absolutely, Bill Russell was a great man, and a great person for the values he. At the height of the racial tensions that afflicted the world, Bill Russell was a symbol of opulence and respect that went beyond sports. The gratitude he has received from the public will last forever and I’m glad I had the opportunity to touch his hand. The man was truly a champion in and out of the court. His gratitude to him is inexhaustible.
“I started off by saying Bill Russell was a great man. Bill Russell was the greatest of men.”
The event began 15 minutes prior to the time that Tuesday night’s game kicked off with a video that highlighted Russell’s accomplishments which were followed by Brown’s remarks and the spoken word poem of Boston’s poet laureate Porsha Olayiwola.
Another video followed which showcased not only his basketball successes, however, but also his long-term advocacy for civil rights activism which culminated in his receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011 -which featured a performance by singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc.
Throughout the ceremony, separate spotlights reflected at No. 6 on the court on both sides of the court. It was one of the many tributes that the Celtics will pay to perhaps the most famous player in the history of the league and one who is the most revered of the other sports in this league.
After the game, fans praised his widow Jeannine Russell and she was seated at the court and cried as she acknowledged a standing ovation at an extra timeout in the 3rd fourth quarter in the Celtics’ 126-117 win.
Following the news that Russell died in July, at his 88th birthday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that, from the start of the current season, Russell’s no. 6 will be retired across the league, granting Russell the same respect that the sport gave another legendary player at the same time: Dodgers legend Jackie Robinson.
“Bill Russell’s unparalleled success on the court and pioneering civil rights activism deserves to be honored in a unique and historic way,” Silver stated in a statement that announced the decision. “Permanently retiring his No. 6 across every NBA team ensures that Bill’s transcendent career will always be recognized.”
Additionally, the retirement of the jersey didn’t affect players wearing the number. 6, which includes Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James The majority of NBA players will sport an official patch that will be displayed on their left shoulder throughout the 2022-23 basketball season. each court will sport a shamrock-shaped symbol with Russell’s number. 6 on the sideline, close to the table for scoring.
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