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#pounditThursday, October 6, 2022

Magic Johnson calls for NBA to do 1 major thing in honor of Bill Russell

Magic Johnson looking on

Mar 23, 2018; Omaha, NE, USA; NBA former player Magic Johnson watches during the first half between the Clemson Tigers and the Kansas Jayhawks in the semifinals of the Midwest regional of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Magic Johnson wants to see the NBA pay tribute to Bill Russell in a big way.

The retired Hall of Famer Johnson posted a tweet on Tuesday calling on the league to retire the late great Russell’s No. 6 jersey across the NBA.

Johnson’s message comes just days after Russell passed away at 88. Russell wore the No. 6 jersey throughout his storied NBA career, and it has already been retired by Russell’s longtime team, the Boston Celtics, in his honor.

But around the NBA, No. 6 is still in fairly 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 who currently wear it. A leaguewide retirement of the No. 6 could hypothetically be grandfathered in though (similar to the way MLB’s retirement of Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 was grandfathered in with players like Mariano Rivera still continuing to wear No. 42 through the end of their respective careers).

Before Johnson did so, some NBA journalists, most notably Marc Stein and Dan Woike, had also suggested the league universally retire Russell’s jersey.

Few will dispute that Russell is worthy of such a high honor. He was a true pioneer and foundational figure of the sport as well as its greatest winner with a never-to-be-surpassed 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.

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