Bill Russell

Atlantic Notes: Layman, J. Jackson, Celtics, Raptors, Sixers

When they signed with the Celtics, Jake Layman and Justin Jackson both received one-year, minimum-salary contracts that are non-guaranteed. However, the terms of those agreements are slightly different — Layman got an Exhibit 10 clause in his contract, while Jackson’s deal is an Exhibit 9, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Both Layman and Jackson are ineligible to have their contracts converted into two-way deals because they have too many years of NBA service under their belts. But Layman’s Exhibit 10 contract makes him eligible to receive a $50K bonus if he’s waived before the season and then spends at least 60 days with the Maine Celtics, Boston’s G League team.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

And-Ones: Russell, Noel, Paul, Team USA, Baker

Bill Russell‘s No. 6 will be retired throughout the league and another Hall of Famer, Alonzo Mourning, said it was much-deserved honor, Marc J. Spears of Andscape writes.

“We still need to celebrate his name, because he paved the way during a time where he had to deal with so many different obstacles,” Mourning said. “Not just on the court, but off the court. He paved the way for all of us.”

Mourning and Jerry West were on stage at the Hall of Fame’s annual ceremony over the weekend to honor Russell before the Class of 2022 was inducted.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Pistons center Nerlens Noel‘s lawsuit against agent Rich Paul is headed to arbitration, Michael McCann of Sportico reports in a subscribers-only article. Noel sued Paul last August, alleging that the agent’s negotiating tactics during 2017 cost him a four-year, $70MM extension with Dallas.
  • USA Basketball wound up with the bronze medal in the AmeriCup by defeating Canada 84-80 (Twitter link). Former NBA forward Gary Clark led the way with 18 points. Argentina, having defeated Team USA in the semifinals, earned the gold medal with a victory over Brazil.
  • The G League Lakeland Magic acquired the returning player rights to forward Robert Baker from the Stockton Kings in exchange for a 2022 second-round pick, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Baker, 24, appeared in 26 games with the Stockton Kings last season and one Summer League game with the Thunder.

Atlantic Notes: Russell, Celtics Roster, Durant, Nets

The Celtics have revealed that they will wear Bill Russell-themed City Edition jerseys 12 times during the 2022/23 season to honor the life and legacy of the 11-time Boston champion, reports Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link), who recaps a Celtics press statement announcing the news. Two of those city jersey appearances will happen during a pair of Russell-themed home tribute contests, one against the Sixers in October and the other against the Grizzlies in February.

The Celtics’ press statement notes that Russell himself was consulted for the development of the tributary City Edition uniform in recent years, in collaboration with the team and the NBA. Russell, a 12-time All-Star and five-time NBA MVP, passed away last month at age 88.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Fresh off a 2022 Finals run, the Celtics are hoping a bolstered bench can help them win a title in 2023. Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe unpacks the team’s current roster. The club added point guard Malcolm Brogdon – who started while with his prior club, the Pacers – but clarified that 2022 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart will remain the team’s starting point guard. Another new addition, veteran forward Danilo Gallinari, will also help strengthen the club’s second unit. Himmelsbach notes that head coach Ime Udoka will prioritize Boston’s health heading into the postseason and lean on the team’s improved depth, particularly given the age of starting center Al Horford and the injury history of starting center Robert Williams.
  • The Nets are reportedly holding out hope that All-Star forward Kevin Durant will reconsider his request to be traded away from Brooklyn, as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst told Malika Andrews on NBA Today (YouTube video link). Windhorst revealed that, even as the Nets front office continues to parse through a variety of potential deals, the team is trying to suss out exactly what Durant would require for a return. He recently met with team owner Joe Tsai in London to demand that the team fire president of basketball operations Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash.
  • Though the Nets were allotted 26 national television appearances during the 2021/22 regular season, the NBA has opted to slash that tally in half heading into 2022/23, perhaps indicating that the league itself is dubious Kevin Durant will remain with the club long-term, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Lewis notes that, amidst the uncertainty surrounding the futures of stars Durant and Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn may not hold as much national appeal to audiences.
  • In some more positive news, Lewis notes that the Nets‘ third star, Ben Simmons, should be fully healthy in time for the team’s October 19 season opener against the Pelicans.

NBA To Retire Bill Russell’s No. 6 Jersey Throughout League

In the wake of Bill Russell‘s recent passing, the NBA has announced it will retire Russell’s No. 6 jersey throughout the league, confirming the decision in a press release on Thursday. The National Basketball Players Association put out the same announcement on its own website.

Players who currently wear No. 6, including Lakers superstar LeBron James, will be able to continue wearing it, but the number won’t be issued again by any team to any player going forward, according to today’s announcement.

“Bill Russell’s unparalleled 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 a statement. “Permanently retiring his No. 6 across every NBA team ensures that Bill’s transcendent career will always be recognized.”

“This is a momentous honor reserved for one of the greatest champions to ever play the game,” NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio stated. “Bill’s actions on and off the court throughout the course of his life helped to shape generations of players for the better and for that, we are forever grateful. We are proud to continue the celebration of his life and legacy alongside the league.”

Russell, who wore No. 6 for his entire NBA career from 1956-69, won a league-record 11 championships in just 13 seasons. In addition to his unprecedented success on the court, Russell was a trailblazer off of it, championing civil rights, equality, and inclusion. He became the first Black head coach in the NBA and in major U.S. sports when he was named the player-coach of the Celtics in 1966.

According to the NBA, the league will pay further tribute to Russell by having all players wear a commemorative patch on their jerseys during the 2022/23 season, with every NBA court displaying a clover-shaped logo with the No. 6 on the sidelines near the scorer’s table.

Besides James, 24 other NBA players wore the No. 6 in 2021/22, per Basketball-Reference. Many of those players are no longer under contract, but Bulls guard Alex Caruso, Pistons wing Hamidou Diallo, and Wizards big man Kristaps Porzingis are among those who still wear the number and will be allowed to continue doing so.

More Reaction To Bill Russell’s Passing

How can the NBA celebrate the legacy of Bill Russell? By retiring his iconic No. 6 jersey league-wide, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times opines.

Russell passed away at the age of 88 over the weekend.

That would be an appropriate tribute to Russell, who like Jackie Robinson excelled in his sport while fighting against prejudice and bigotry. The league could let players who currently wear Russell’s number finish out their careers with that uniform, Woike adds, but otherwise the number should be retired as a show of respect for Russell’s contributions to the game and society.

Here’s more reaction to the passing of Russell:

  • Another of the league’s all-time greats, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, reflected on his 60-year relationship with Russell in a Substack post, detailing why he considers Russell “my friend, my mentor, my role model.”
  • The Athletic’s Steve Buckley explores Russell’s tumultuous relationship with the city of Boston and how he eventually softened his stance on returning to the city in his later years.
  • Despite the fact that many of the Celtics’ championships with Russell came at the expense of the Lakers, he was beloved in the city of Los Angeles, as Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register details.
  • Former Celtics player and executive Danny Ainge said many former Boston players often spoke of Russell’s impact on their lives, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News writes. “I had an opportunity to sit and talk for hours with many Celtic legends over the years: John Havlicek, KC Jones, Sam Jones, Tommy Heinsohn, Jo Jo White, Red Auerbach and many others,” Ainge said. “Their stories would often lead to conversations about the great Bill Russell. The influence he had on those he was so close with is impressive, but the impact he had on so many people everywhere is legendary.”
  • Statistical analysis of Russell’s career cannot possibly compute his impact on the games he played and championships he won, Santul Nerkar and Neil Paine of argue.
  • With current players taking stances on social issues, Russell’s legacy of fighting injustice will continue to be felt for many more years, Logan Murdock of The Ringer notes.

And-Ones: Russell, Sotto, Douglas

With legendary center Bill Russell passing away at the age of 88 today, figures across the sports world have paid their respects through statements and social media posts. Among those is Tamika Tremaglio, director of the National Basketball Players Association.

“Bill Russell embodies what it means to be a champion in every sense of the word. His on-court accomplishments, including the unfathomable 11 championships and five MVP awards — all achieved with distinct grace and swagger — are entrenched in our NBA culture as the standard to which all inspire,” Tremaglio said as part of a larger statement, as relayed on social media.

Russell’s passing has also drawn statements from other notable figures, including Magic Johnson (Twitter link) Celtics star Jayson Tatum (Twitter link) and Barack Obama (Twitter link).

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • In addition to players and figures around the sports world, many teams released statements about Russell’s passing. Those teams include the Celtics, Kings, Warriors and Suns. Russell impacted generations during his life — both on the court and off.
  • Kai Sotto will remain in the NBL with the Adelaide 36ers next season, as relayed by Sportando. The 20-year-old averaged 7.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season.
  • Former NBA guard Toney Douglas has agreed to a deal with Benfica in Portugal, according to Martim Figueiredo (hat tip to Sportando). Douglas last played in Greece. He’s played 394 NBA games during his career, making stops with New York, Houston, Sacramento, Golden State, Miami, New Orleans and Memphis.

Celtics Hall Of Famer Bill Russell Passes Away At 88

Legendary former Celtics center Bill Russell, winner of a record 11 NBA titles in 13 seasons as a player, has passed away at the age of 88, per a press statement from Russell’s representatives (Twitter link).

“Bill Russell, the most prolific winner in American sports history, passed away peacefully today at age 88, with his wife, Jeannine, by his side,” the statement began.

After Boston traded for Russell’s draft rights in 1956 (he was the No. 2 pick out of San Francisco, where he won two NCAA titles), the 6’10” defensive-oriented big man continued to rack up accolades at the next level. In addition to his 11 championships, the 12-time All-Star was also a five-time league MVP, as well as an 11-time All-NBA honoree. He also won an Olympic gold medal for team basketball in 1956.

During the 1966/67 season, when Red Auerbach stepped down as Boston’s head coach, Russell made history as the first Black NBA head coach while still a player. In this player-coach capacity, Russell won the last two of his 11 championships.

Russell was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975 as a player, and then again as a head coach in 2021. Beyond Boston, he served as head coach with the Seattle SuperSonics from 1973-77, and for the Kings during the 1987/88 season. He made the 25th, 35th, 50th, and 75th Anniversary NBA Teams, honoring the best players the game has ever seen.

In 13 seasons and 963 regular season games, all with the Celtics, Russell averaged 15.1 PPG on 44% field goal shooting, plus 22.5 RPG and 4.3 APG. He certainly would have also averaged a boatload of blocked shots, too, but that statistic was not maintained in his era. His greatness as a competitor and teammate goes beyond the numbers, and he is widely considered one of the very best NBA players ever.

A longtime leader in the civil rights movement, Russell was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama for his societal contributions both on and off the court in 2011. Russell is so resonant to the game of basketball that the NBA Finals MVP Award was rebranded the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in 2009, and when health permitted Russell would be on hand to dole out the trophy to the award’s winners through the years.

“Perhaps you’ll relive one or two of the golden moments he gave us, or recall his trademark laugh as he delighted in explaining the real story behind how those moments unfolded,” the Russell family statement read in its concluding paragraph. “And we hope each of us can find a new way to act or speak up with Bill’s uncompromising, dignified and always constructive commitment to principle. That would be one last, and lasting, win for our beloved #6 [Russell’s jersey number, long since retired in Boston].”

Tributes have already begun pouring in for Russell from players, media, fans, and league personnel.

“Thank you for everything! R.I.P. Legend,” current Celtics All-NBA forward Jayson Tatum wrote (via Twitter).

Boston star wing Jaylen Brown wrote a series of tweets commemorating the one-of-a-kind Boston big man.

“Thank you for paving the way and inspiring so many,” Brown wrote in part (Twitter link). “Today is a sad day but also [a] great day to celebrate his legacy and what he stood for.” 

“R.I.P. Bill Russell,” Boston reserve forward Grant Williams began his post (via Twitter). “You allowed me to be in the position I am in today and you changed not only the league but the world. Forever 6.”

Celtics team president Brad Stevens weighed in as well, tweeting, “So very sad to hear about Bill Russell today. He set the standard – on and off the court. RIP to an all-time winner, teammate and person.”

League Commissioner Adam Silver released a heartfelt statement in response to the news (Twitter link).

“Bill Russell was the greatest champion in all of team sports,” Silver wrote. “The countless accolades that he earned for his storied career with the Boston Celtics… only begin to tell the story of Bill’s immense impact on our league and broader society. Bill stood for something much bigger than sports: the values of equality, respect and inclusion that he stamped into the DNA of our league. At the height of his athletic career, Bill advocated vigorously for civil rights and social justice, a legacy he passed down to generations of NBA players who followed in his footsteps.”

Our deepest condolences go out to Russell’s family and friends. One of the NBA’s brightest lights has gone out.

2021 Hall Of Fame Class Announced

As expected, Paul Pierce, Ben Wallace and Chris Webber will be part of the Class of 2021 for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

They will be joined by Chris Bosh, coaches Rick Adelman, Jay Wright and Bill Russell, and WNBA players Yolanda Griffith and Lauren Jackson.

Among former players, Bosh is the only name that hasn’t been reported already. He is best known as part of the Big Three in Miami that made four straight Finals appearances and won two NBA titles early last decade. He played 13 NBA seasons, with the first seven coming in Toronto before getting a chance to join LeBron James and Dwyane Wade with the Heat.

Bosh is an 11-time All-Star and was a second-team All-NBA selection in 2007. A medical condition ended his career early, and he was elected to the Hall in his first year of eligibility.

Adelman made two trips to the NBA Finals and is the ninth-winningest coach in league history with 1,042 career victories. He played seven seasons in the league, but made his greatest impact as a coach, guiding the Trail Blazers, Warriors, Kings, Rockets and Timberwolves.

Wright has been the head coach at Villanova since 2001 and has more than 600 career wins. He has led the Wildcats to three Final Fours and captured NCAA titles in 2016 and 2018.

Russell was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975 for his legendary playing career, but he was also a pioneer as a coach. He took over as player-coach of the Celtics in 1966, becoming the first Black head coach in North American professional sports. Russell had a 341-290 coaching record and won a pair of NBA titles.

Griffith is a seven-time WNBA all-star and was captured the league’s MVP, Newcomer of the Year and Defensive Player awards in 1999. She was named Finals MVP in 2005 after leading the Sacramento Monarchs to their first WNBA championship.

Jackson was an Australian star who won three silver medals in the Olympics. She’s among the WNBA career leaders in games, minutes, field goals and three-pointers and helped the Seattle Storm win two titles, capturing Finals MVP honors in 2010.

Several other players were also voted into the Hall, Wojnarowski adds (Twitter links):

  • International Committee: Toni Kukoc.
  • Contributors: Val Ackerman, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Howard Garfinkel.
  • Veteran’s Committee: Bob Dandridge.
  • Women’s Veteran Committee: Pearl Moore.
  • Early African-American Pioneers: Clarence Jenkins.

Photo courtesy of USA Sports Images.

Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce, Rick Adelman Among 2021 Hall Of Fame Finalists

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has announced 14 finalists for the Class of 2021 election, according to a press release. These nine players and five coaches are the candidates to be named Hall-of-Famers when this year’s class is announced on May 16.

This year’s finalists are as follows:



Hardaway, Johnson, Wallace, Webber, and Andrews have been finalists in the past and are receiving consideration again this year. The other nine are first-time finalists, though Russell has – of course – already been inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player.

Among this year’s first-time finalists, Bosh, Pierce, and Adelman are a few of the most interesting names. Bosh earned 11 All-Star nods and won a pair of NBA championships before a blood-clotting issue cut his career short. Pierce made 10 All-Star teams and won a title (and a Finals MVP award) over the course of his 19 NBA seasons. Adelman, meanwhile, is the ninth-winningest coach in NBA history, with an all-time regular season record of 1,042-749 (.582).

Due to the coronavirus, 2020’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony couldn’t be held as planned last year and has been rescheduled for May 14-16. The Class of 2020 includes Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, and the late Kobe Bryant.

The ceremony for the Class of 2021 is scheduled to take place in September 2021, following May’s announcement of the inductees.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: Russell, Fultz, Chriss

Eleven-time NBA champion Bill Russell will be honored with the NBA’s first ever Lifetime Achievement Award, an Associated Press report states. The Hall of Fame center will be presented with the award during the NBA’s award show on June 26.

With five NBA MVPs to his name, the Celtics Hall of Famer is a living legend with an endless resume of historic achievements. Not only has Russell remained a visible representative of the Boston franchise and league in general’s sustained success, he lays claim to the title of being the first player to win an NBA title, an NCAA crown and an Olympic gold medal.

Per the Associated Press, Russell was also the first African American to coach a team in one of the major professional sports leagues.

Across 13 NBA seasons as a player, Russell averaged 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

There’s more from around the NBA: