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Chicago Bulls shooting guard Alex Caruso he considered changing his jersey number for the upcoming NBA season to honor the late Bill Russell, but the NBA would not allow it.
On Monday, Caruso was asked about wearing No. 6, explaining that the NBA told him he couldn’t change his number because of its popularity.
“I thought about changing it this year,” Caruso told reporters Monday. “And the NBA told me I couldn’t because it was in the top 75 for t-shirt sales. So that’s like a rule.”
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the NBA retired No. 6 jersey throughout the league following Russell’s death on July 31 at the age of 88.
Players currently wearing a number 6 jersey were protected and allowed to continue wearing the jersey number.
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“I looked into it, and obviously I don’t want to do anything other than honor him and his legacy and what he stood for,” Caruso said. “He is one of the pioneers, a racial defender of the game of basketball in general, and just a great person in every way. I don’t know anyone who talks about him or knows him who has anything negative to say.
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“Probably next year I will look for another number.”
In addition to removing the number, the The NBA will honor Russell for the upcoming season with a commemorative patch on all jerseys and a trefoil logo on the pitch with the number 6.
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“Bill Russell’s unprecedented success on the court and pioneering civil rights activism deserve to be honored in a unique and historic way,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in announcing the uniform number’s retirement. “Permanently retiring No. 6 from him on every NBA team ensures that Bill’s momentous career will always be recognized.”
Russell is the greatest winner in basketball history, winning 11 NBA championships in 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics.