Shortly after the NBA released the schedule for the 2022-23 season, the Boston Celtics revealed their plans to honor a franchise icon.
The league has already announced that no NBA player will ever wear Bill Russell’s No. 6 jersey. Now, the Celtics, the only professional franchise Russell ever played for, have announced how they plan to recognize their former star, who died July 31 at 88.
Bill Russell did so much for the Boston Celtics, the NBA, and more
Russell’s contributions weren’t just limited to the basketball court. He was a civil rights activist, who battled racism throughout his life. His ex-teammate, Bob Cousy, witnessed Russell both as the basketball player and the activist.
He fought the good fight, obviously, on the floor, but he fought the good fight off the floor, fighting racism all his life, “Cousy told Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe shortly after Russell’s death. “Sticking his tongue out at the opponent. That’s not easy to do.
“People give up things to take a stand, and Russell simply never cared. Jocks generally worry about their image after they’ve had a successful career and they’re all very careful as to what they say and how they approach every issue. Most of them are very circumspect and have people that advise them. Russell just let it flow. He spoke out against racism in every form, and I’m sure he’s happier for that now.”
On the court, Russell revolutionized the game with his athleticism and defensive presence as a 6-foot-10 center. His shot-blocking ability was a difference-maker. Russell played a mind game with his opponents that often led to them changing up their game plan, knowing Russell was about to swat away their shots.
“Basketball is a game that involves a great deal of psychology,” Russell said in 1963, according to Sports Illustrated. “The psychology in defense is not blocking a shot or stealing a pass or getting the ball away. The psychology is to make the offensive team deviate from their normal habits. This is a game of habits, and the player with the most consistent habits is the best. What I try to do on defense is to make the offensive man do not what he wants but what I want.”
The Celtics will honor Russell throughout the upcoming season
Russell played 13 seasons with the Celtics, capturing 11 championships during his time in Boston. He succeeded Red Auerbach as head coach, becoming the first Black head coach. He played his final three seasons in Boston as a player/coach.
The Celtics plan to honor their late star throughout the upcoming season. According to Celtics reporter Chris Forsberg, the Celtics will have two tribute nights for Russell.
The first of those will come on opening night when the Celtics host the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 18 to kick of the 2022-23 season. The second will take place on Russell’s birthday, Feb. 12. That night, the Celtics will host the Memphis Grizzlies.
Also, the Celtics will unveil a special Bill Russell City Edition uniform. The team will wear those jerseys in 12 games, six at home and six on the road.
Russell holds a special place with the Celtics, and his presence will be felt throughout the upcoming season.