This is a late post.
And here's an unpopular opinion.
I don't think it's a good idea for the league to retire the #6 jersey.
It's not that I don't want the NBA to honor Bill Russell. As a Boston Celtics fan, having his jersey in the rafters of every team in existence is just the stuff of legends.
But they have already honored Bill Russell.
Seeing Bill Russell loving the fact that the Finals MVP award is named after him is something no one can ever take from him.
This is just as awesome as Jerry West's logo.
Okay, info time.
Here is the current list of awards the NBA is giving out. Some are due to on-court achievements while others are due to their off-court efforts.
CHAMPIONSHIP | LARRY O'BRIEN TROPHY (the NBA commissioner before David Stern)
MVP | MAURICE PODOLOFF TROPHY (NBA's first commissioner)
COACH OF THE YEAR | RED AUERBACH AWARD (Boston's coach from 1956 to 1966)
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR | EDDIE GOTTLIEB TROPHY (former Philadelphia Warriors coach)
NBA FINALS MVP | BILL RUSSELL AWARD
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS MVP | LARRY BIRD TROPHY
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS MVP | MAGIC JOHNSON TROPHY
ALL-STAR MVP | KOBE BRYANT AWARD
SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD | JOE DUMARS TROPHY
CITIZENSHIP AWARD | J. WALTER KENNEDY AWARD (NBA's second commissioner)
NBA COMMUNITY ASSIST AWARD | DAVID ROBINSON PLAQUE
SOCIAL JUSTICE CHAMPION AWARD | KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR TROPHY
TEAMMATE OF THE YEAR | JACK TWYMAN AND MAURICE STOKES (former Cincinnati Royals teammates who stuck together even beyond basketball)
And here is the list of awards that have yet to be named.
ALL-NBA TEAM | NONE
ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM | NONE
ALL-ROOKIE TEAM | NONE
EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR | NONE
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR | NONE
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER | NONE
SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR | NONE
HUSTLE AWARD | NONE
Let's just say that they need to give Michael Jordan an award. Jordan fits in the All-NBA Teams as well as on the defensive awards but the same can also be said with Lebron James, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, and Hakeem Olajuwon. That's why giving Bill Russell the Finals MVP award is more than enough.
Maybe give Michael Jordan the scoring champion award? Yes, they make this as a stat but it's not recognized as an award.
I guess it's good to see Bill Russell having his number 6 jersey fly in the rafters of a Los Angeles Lakers arena but this also means they have to retroactively give the same recognition to Wilt Chamberlain. You can't say the story of Russell without Wilt The Stilt. When Chamberlain died in 1999, the NBA had a different environment as compared to today. Centers ruled the court and well, he's not going to be seen wearing a Boston jersey.
If they want to honor Bill Russell, they should probably just retroactively hand out Finals MVP awards from 1947. Maybe find the old stat sheets and just recognized the steals and blocks categories when they were still playing. Russell during his era had an unofficial quadruple-double record.
Maybe the league can unearth a lot of information from their record books.
This can also help the other big names of that era get the recognition they deserve. People are snubbing Elgin Baylor on their best lists. He's not a top ten player but he's certainly a Top 30 guy at worst. The same can be said with Oscar Robertson and Bob Cousy. How about Nate Thurmond? Maybe people will appreciate Nate The Great if there was an All-NBA Third Team back then.
Recognizing Bill Russell by retiring his number is a cool move... aesthetically. This may be a spur-of-the-moment deal and frankly, if this pushes through, then it is still awesome, nonetheless.
With that said, I guess they need to follow the same suit to a lot of legends - and this makes this situation sticky.