Cover Image for 11X champ Bill Russell didn’t want his #6 to be retired by the Boston Celtics for this bizarre reason

11X champ Bill Russell didn’t want his #6 to be retired by the Boston Celtics for this bizarre reason

Advait Jajodia
|Sun Aug 14 2022


Bill Russell was a long-time Boston legend but didn’t need the “validation” for the Celtics to retire his number.

Bill Russell is one of the most accomplished athletes in sports. The 6-foot-10 big man managed to make 12 All-Star appearances, 11 All-NBA selections, 4 rebound titles, 5 MVPs, and a staggering 11 championships. The Celtics legend was even honored by the league, renaming the Finals MVP award to the “Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award”.

In light of Russ’ recent tragic death, Adam Silver announced that all teams in the association were going to permanently retire #6. In a statement, NBA’s commissioner said:

“Bill Russell’s unparalleled success on the court and pioneering civil rights activism deserve to be honored in a unique and historic way. Permanently retiring his No. 6 across every NBA team ensures that Bill’s transcendent career will always be recognized.”

Also Read: After LeBron James’ retirement, Miami Heat will have to retire no.6 second time following Bill Russell’s league-wide tribute

Why did Bill Russell not want the Boston Celtics to retire his number?

The Boston Celtics had already retired Bill’s number back in 1972, just 3 years after his retirement. However, there was one time when the Hall-Of-Famer wasn’t interested in receiving such an honor.

Russell didn’t have the best of relations with the city and didn’t want any “validation” from the organization. During an interview, the 13-year NBA veteran said:

“It had nothing to do with anger,” Russell explained. “I don’t need any validation. I played, and I played. And that trip and that experience was enough to last me for a lifetime.”

Despite Bill’s wishes of not getting his number retired, Red Auerbach went ahead with the ceremony.

“We’re gonna go through with it anyway, but I don’t know what that crazy [expletive] will do when it happens,” Auerbach said at the time. “Sunday we’re gonna raise that flag with his number on it. His kids and I are gonna do it if Russ won’t, and that’s that.”

Bill was a great man, both on the court as well as off the hardwood. Despite his “validation” remark, the league has definitely made a great decision with getting his number retired.


About the author
Advait Jajodia

Advait Jajodia

Being a two-time national-level basketball player, NBA surely had my attention from a very young age. At age 20 now, I aspire to share the knowledge I gained over 11 years with fellow basketball-lovers through my articles!

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