Why do NBA players have a 6 on their jerseys? Since the start of the 2022-23 season, the No. 6 patch has been part of the uniforms.
Since the 2017-18 season, the NBA has allowed teams to sport sponsors on their jerseys via patches. Each club has a variety of partners, from global marketing companies to local trade firms.
More recently, the entire NBA has come together and wears a No. 6 patch on their jerseys — why is that? Is there a company that sponsors every single team in the league? Keep reading to find out!
Why do NBA players have a No. 6 patch on their jerseys?
As it turns out, the No. 6 patch has nothing to do with sponsorship — NBA players wear it in honor of the late great Bill Russell, who died at the age of 88 on July 31, 2022. The legendary center was a five-time NBA MVP, helping the Boston Celtics win 11 NBA titles during his 13-year career.
Following his death, the NBA and NBPA announced they would “honor the life and legacy” of the Hall of Famer by permanently retiring his uniform No. 6 throughout the league. On Sept. 26, 2022, the NBA unveiled the black No. 6 patch, which every player would wear on their jersey for the 2022-23 season.
In addition to the No. 6 jersey patch, teams would also have a clover-shaped logo with No. 6 on their courts near the scorer’s table. As for the Celtics, they also painted the No. 6 in the free throw area.
“The presence that Bill Russell had — not only on the court, but in the community — it’s something that will always be present, and he’ll always have a legacy because of that,” Celtics forward Grant Williams said via NBA.com, adding that Boston was his grandfather’s favorite team because of Russell. “I’m fortunate to be playing for this organization.”
Celtics star shooting guard Jaylen Brown added that it’s necessary to remember Bill’s struggles against racism in the ’60s and “understand the team’s current turmoil pales in comparison.” He said, “Thinking about his legacy and what he stood for and the amount of adversity he went through is nothing like we have now.”