The Boston Celtics to Honor Bill Russell With an Inside-the-Paint Tribute

Boston Celtics legendary center Bill Russell made his living inside the paint. Now, the team will honor him there.

The Celtics already have plans to honor Russell, their Hall of Famer who died in July at age 88, this season. The team recently announced they will also have a season-long tribute right on the parquet for the basketball player whose contributions on and off the court were unmatched.

The Boston Celtics will pay tribute to Bill Russell throughout the season

Nobody meant more to the Celtics than Russell. The 6-foot-10 center dominated during his playing days, leading Boston to 11 championships in his 13 seasons. He also revolutionized the game itself with a defensive-minded approach. His shot-blocking ability changed the way the game is played.

Shortly after Russell died on July 31, 2022, the Celtics announced they would honor him at various points throughout the season. The plan is to have two tribute nights in his honor.

The first of those will come on opening night when the Celtics host the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 18 to kick off the 2022-23 season. The second will happen on Russell’s birthday, Feb. 12. That night, the Celtics host the Memphis Grizzlies.

On Monday, the Celtics announced they will also have a season-long tribute to Russell. They will honor him right where he dominated — inside the paint.

The Celtics will have the No. 6 inside the paint on both ends of TD Garden. They will also wear special Bill Russell City Edition jerseys for 12 games, six home and six away.

The Celtics aren’t the only ones planning to honor Russell. The NBA also announced that no player on any team will ever wear No. 6 again.

Russell left a lasting impression on the Celtics and the NBA

It’s a jubilant mob scene as happy fans carry Boston Celtics’ Tommy Heinsohn (L), coach Red Auerbach (Center, with victory cigar), and big Bill Russell (R) around the basketball court at Boston Garden after the Celtics won their sixth consecutive World Championship. | Getty Images.

Russell was a 12-time NBA All-Star and a five-time MVP. For his career, he averaged 15.1 points and 22.5 rebounds. He led the league in rebounding average five times.

Off the court, he was just as impressive. He was much more than the guy who won eight straight NBA titles. He was a civil rights activist, and his former teammate Bob Cousy spoke about how his off-the-court accomplishments were just as impressive as anything he did on the court.

“Russell goes down as the best winner ever in American team sports,” Cousy told Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe shortly after Russell’s death. “That’s pretty significant, and that’s never going to change.

“He fought the good fight, obviously, on the floor, but he fought the good fight off the floor, fighting racism all his life. 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.”

Russell may be gone, but his legacy will live forever. We’ll continue to hear about it throughout the 2022-23 NBA season and beyond.

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