Skip to main content

Why Bill Russell didn't want Boston fans at his jersey retirement

Bill-Russell

With his 11 championships, Bill Russell will always be at the top of the list. He will always be compared to Wilt and the consensus is the main separating line was Bill's commitment to put the team over self.

While Wilt was the first in a long line of Lakers that saw the game through themselves, Bill Russell always did to help others around him improve even though it was going to damage some of his personal stats. That's why Wilt has so many individual records and Rusell so many championship rings.

We wrote about Moses Malone accepting to have his number retired only if the names of all of his teammates were on the same banner written as well. Bill Russell did a similar thing with his jersey retirement.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

He was a prodigy on the court, but also a forward thinker off it. Russell fought against racism and had a thoughtful public persona. He started the fight that players still have to fight today (Westbrook in Utah for example). Even though he led the team to so many glorious moments, his home in the suburbs of Reading was once broken into and vandalized.

Russell called Boston "a flea market of racism" in his memoir and his teammates understood and supported him. Tommy Heinhson said, “He had animosities toward Boston, as most people know, and they were well-founded animosities, I might add."

So when Red Auerbach wanted to retire his jersey, he knew that couldn't be stopped but Russell decided to do it on his own terms. It was important to him all his teammates were there, but not the fans. The retirement happened before a game, in an empty arena. Why?

Russell knew the event would be full of cheers and adoration and he felt it would be an uneven representation of his experience in Boston. Still, even in the matters most important to him, he still had his team and teammates in mind and found a way to honor them as they were honoring him.

iman-shumpert-kevin-garnett-min

"I smell pus*y Lord!"-Iman Shumpert reveals a crazy Kevin Garnet trash-talking story

"Boy, I dunked that ball the next play and called him all types of bit*h!"-Shumpert took KG's trash talk personal.

Shaq & Kobe go head to head with Magic & Kareem for the title of the greatest Lakers' duo
Play

The battle of the two greatest duos in Lakers' franchise history

Magic & Kareem or Kobe & Shaq -- two greatest duos in LA Lakers' history go head to head in NBA 2k22

Eddy-Curry

Eddy Curry opens up about his time with the New York Knicks — “That was the year I started experiencing knee problems”

If there’s one way to define Eddy Curry’s basketball career, it’s probably “untapped potential"

Lebron James and Michael Jordan on court during halftime during the 2022 NBA All-Star Game

LeBron James’ $45 Lobos tequila defeats Michael Jordan’s Cincoro tequila in the 2022 Spirits tequila competition

This year's Spirits tequila competition was reportedly the largest iteration ever, with almost 5,000 different alcoholic brands participating.

NBA analyst and former player Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O'Neal names the only 4 real superstars in the NBA

Steph Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo immediatley came to Shaq's mind. The other two guys, he had to be reminded of. And then the Kawhi Leonard issue came up.

Orlando Magic first overall draft pick Paolo Banchero

Number one overall pick Paolo Banchero reveals his top five NBA players of all time

Many were quick to notice the heavy presence of the Los Angeles Lakers on Banchero’s list, and it immediatley started speculation from Laker Nation.