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“The NBA told me I couldn’t” — Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso wasn't allowed to switch jersey number

Caruso wanted to honor Bill Russell, but the NBA had a surprising reason not to allow the switch.
Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso

Alex Caruso

During the team's media day, Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso revealed that he wanted to give up his jersey no. 6 in exchange for something else to honor the late great Boston Celtics legend, Bill Russell. However, the Association itself blocked the move because of a curious surprise.

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When Russell died in late July, the NBA went to great lengths to pay tribute to the Celtics icon. Aside from all teams wearing a special patch on their jerseys to honor Russell, the no. 6 was also retired across the league in August. Caruso, entering his second season with the Bulls, said he would have given up his jersey number to switch to another one to pay tribute to Russell if he was allowed to. However, the NBA did not green-light the move, saying Caruso's jersey was too popular with fans.

"I did give some thought to changing it this year and the NBA told me I couldn't because I was in the top 75 of jersey sales," shared Caruso.

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"Obviously, I want to do nothing but honor him and his legacy and what he stood for. He's one of the pioneers — a racial advocate for the game of basketball in general and just an all-around great person," Caruso added.

Will the Bald Mamba soar this season?

Caruso's popularity has exploded since he joined the league as an undrafted player in 2016. He was a vital member of the Lakers' championship run in 2020, providing energy and hustle off the bench. Caruso even got his own nickname - the "Bald Mamba" - which he embraces wholeheartedly.

Now that he's with the Bulls, Caruso is looking to help his new team make a deep playoff run this season. With the likes of Zach LaVine and Demar DeRozan leading the way, the sky is the limit for this Chicago squad. Caruso is expected to shoulder a more prominent role with starting point guard Lonzo Ball set to miss time due to knee surgery.

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