Magic Johnson wants the NBA to pay tribute to Bill Russell in a big way.
Retired Hall of Famer Johnson posted a tweet Tuesday calling on the league to retire the late great Russell’s No. 6 jersey in the NBA.
Johnson’s message comes just days after Russell died at age 88. Russell wore the number 6 jersey throughout his storied NBA career, and it has already been retired by Russell’s old team, the Boston Celtics, in his honor.
But around the NBA, No. 6 is still in a pretty heavy circulation. LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kristaps Porzingis of the Washington Wizards, and Kenyon Martin Jr. of the Houston Rockets are among the players currently wearing it. However, a league-wide retirement of the number 6 could be hypothetically recorded (similar to the way MLB’s retirement of Jackie Robinson’s number 42 was recorded with players like Mariano Rivera still wearing the number 42 until the end of their respective careers).
Before Johnson did this, some NBA journalists, most notably Marc Stein and Dan Woike, had also suggested that the league universally withdraw Russell’s jersey.
Few would argue that Russell deserves such a high honor. He was a true pioneer and foundational figure of the sport, as well as its biggest winner with an unbeatable 11 NBA championships in 13 career seasons. As for Johnson, he now joins the chorus of NBA legends paying tribute to Russell since Russell’s passing.