The National Basketball Association made the decision to formally retire Bill Russell’s No. 6 jersey for the 2022-23 season on Thursday afternoon. Because of his tremendous influence in the NBA, Russell became the first player to have his number retired by every franchise.
Players presently wearing the No. 6 jersey will be allowed to keep doing so under the new regulation that will go into effect for the next season, but the team may choose not to give the number to any new players. The NBA said in a press release that players who currently wear the No. 6 would be “grandfathered” into the league for the next season.
A league representative has said that should any of these players switch clubs, they would be allowed to keep wearing the same number 6. The implication is that it is not quite true that the number will never be worn again, at least for teams that have not yet retired it. That being stated, below are the most recent players to wear No. 6 for each club in the league:
Most recent NBA players to wear No. 6 for each club:
- Atlanta Hawks: Lou Williams, 2021-22 — Williams, whose second stint with his hometown team — and first wearing No. 6 — began at the 2021 trade deadline, is a free agent.
- Brooklyn Nets: David Duke Jr., 2021-present
- Boston Celtics: Bill Russell, 1956-1969
- Charlotte Hornets: Jalen McDaniels, 2019-present
- Chicago Bulls: Alex Caruso, 2021-present
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Moses Brown, 2022
- Dallas Mavericks: Kristaps Porzingis, 2019-22
- Denver Nuggets: DeAndre Jordan, 2022-present
- Detroit Pistons: Hamidou Diallo, 2021-present
- Golden State Warriors: Alen Smailagic, 2019-21
- Houston Rockets: Kenyon Martin Jr., 2020-present
- Indiana Pacers: Lance Stephenson, 2010-12; 2022 — Stephenson, whose third stint in Indiana began in January with a series of COVID hardship exceptions and 10-day contracts, is a free agent.
- Los Angeles Clippers: Moses Brown, 2022-present — Brown is the only player aside from the next guy on this list to appear on it more than once.
- Los Angeles Lakers: LeBron James, 2021-present
- Memphis Grizzlies: Kenneth Lofton Jr., 2022-present — Lofton, who signed a two-way contract with Memphis after going undrafted, has worn No. 6 in promotional photos and wore the number in summer league. There is no number listed next to his name, however, on the Grizzlies’ official roster page. When asked via email if Lofton had officially been issued the number, the team did not immediately respond. (Otherwise, the Grizzly to wear No. 6 most recently was Shaq Buchanan, who appeared in two games in late December last season on a 10-day contract.)
- Miami Heat: LeBron James, 2010-2014
- Milwaukee Bucks: Luca Vildoza, 2022-present
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Jordan McLaughlin, 2019-present
- New Orleans Pelicans: Tyrone Wallace, 2022 — If not for Wallace signing two 10-day contracts with the Pelicans in March, Nickeil Alexander-Walker would represent two teams on this list.
- New York Knicks: Quentin Grimes, 2021-present
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Jaylin Williams, 2022-present
- Orlando Magic: Patrick Ewing, 2001-02 — Ewing, who spent his final season in the NBA with the Magic, is the only player to ever wear No. 6 for the team.
- Philadelphia 76ers: Julius Erving, 1976-1987
- Phoenix Suns: Walter Davis, 1977-1988 — Davis is the only player to ever wear No. 6 for the Suns.
- Portland Trail Blazers: Keon Johnson, 2022-present
- San Antonio Spurs: Avery Johnson, 1992-1993; 1994-2001
- Sacramento Kings: Bob Burrow, 1956-57 — When Burrow wore No. 6, the franchise was known as the Rochester Royals. The team moved to Cincinnati the next year, and, while it has since played home games in Kansas City, Omaha and Sacramento, one thing has remained consistent: Nobody has worn No. 6.
- Toronto Raptors: Cory Joseph, 2015-17
- Utah Jazz: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, 2022-present
- Washington Wizards: Kristaps Porzingis, 2022-present