For the 2022-23 season, Boston Celtics fans will have an on-court reminder of the greatest player in franchise history. As part of a season-long tribute to the legendary Bill Russell, the team’s parquet floor at TD Garden will have the number 6 painted in both free throw lanes to pay respect to the Hall of Famer and his prowess in the paint.
Russell’s Instant Impact
When he joined the Boston Celtics in 1956, Russell made an immediate impact. He added an unmatched defensive element to the Celtics in his first season, a factor that was instrumental in the team winning its first-ever NBA title his rookie year.
He was the foundation for the franchise’s dynasty in the 1960s. In 1966, he became the first Black head coach in the league, leading Boston and succeeding Red Auerbach, who called Russell “the single most devastating force in the history of the game.”
Season-Long Tributes Around The NBA
Off the court, Russell was an intellectual and outspoken champion of civil rights. While he received many accolades during his life, the honors continued when he died in late July 2022. In August, the NBA and the player’s union announced that they would permanently retire his uniform number, 6, throughout the league. Teams around the league will display a number 6 decal near the scorer’s table.
The Celtics will have two nights dedicated to Russell during the 2022-23 campaign, including the season opener on Oct. 18. Russell would have turned 89 on Feb. 12, 2023. The team plans to dedicate that day’s game to Russell as well. Boston players will also wear Bill Russell City Edition jerseys during 12 games this season.
With a list of accomplishments that could go on for pages and a reputation as a thoughtful and passionate defender of the downtrodden, it is fitting that the Celtics will keep the legacy of the 11-time NBA champion and Olympic gold medalist at the forefront this season. Hopefully, as some fans have wished, the No. 6 on the team’s floor will become a permanent fixture.