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The NBA was shaken to its core when it was announced that Bill Russell had passed away at 88.
Russell was one of the game’s most dominant forces, where he won 11 titles as a player and two more as a head coach with the Boston Celtics. The legendary center is the embodiment of winning, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver made the right call in retiring his No. 6 throughout the league.

/>The league now has had to mourn both Russell and Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant in recent years. In Bryant’s case, the NBA family did numerous things to honor his legacy, but Julius Erving doesn’t believe the Laker Hall of Famer should have his jerseys retired across the league like Russell via TMZ:
“Bill was a very special individual and what he did for basketball, no one else could ever do again,” Erving said.
“I don’t think he should be compared with the Russell situation. We’re fresh into that, but let’s see how that works out. Maybe at some point in time. Bill was 86 years old, so address it like that to an 86-year-old — multiple champions, multiple coaching champions, multiple on-and-off the court [activities of a] champion, or whatever – there’s no comparison.
“I wouldn’t even try to compare Kobe Bryant to Russell.”
Erving meant no disrespect to Bryant and clarified that he believes the jersey retirements are more appropriate at the Lakers level rather than the NBA level:
“It’s more of a franchise situation with the Lakers,” Erving said. “If they wanted to do it, which I think they already have, that makes sense – but for the whole league to do it, probably not.”
Russell and Bryant were both stewards of the game of basketball, and their impact can not be understated. However, Erving does have a point that Russell helped build the league into what it is today, while Bryant’s time in Los Angeles is one of the greatest single-team careers in all of sports.
Both legends being gone is a blow for basketball fans worldwide, but it’s important to continue honoring their legacies.
Although the NBA is retiring Russell’s No. 6, players already wearing the number will still be allowed to keep it going forward. During the 2021-22 season, 25 players wore No. 6, with notable players like LeBron James and Alex Caruso.
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