Why NBA Hindered Bulls Player’s Gesture To Honor Bill Russell

A number of players have been grandfathered into wearing No. 6


September 26

The NBA will honor Bill Russell in various ways throughout the 2022-23 season, but they do have some limitations, as Alex Caruso can attest to.

The Celtics legend died in July, and teams around the league will wear a No. 6 patch in his honor. Boston has unveiled their own court design, as well.

The NBA has retired the No. 6 jersey, but those still wearing the number will be grandfathered in, including Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James. Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso is also one of those players, but he opted to switch to a new number out of respect for Russell — Caruso wore No. 4 when he was a member of the Lakers.

However, the NBA stepped in because he is in the top 75 of jersey sales, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. Caruso said he would revisit the decision next season.

The league only releases the top 15 top jersey sellers. The Bulls were top five in team merchandise sales in the second half of 2022, so it appears along with DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine jerseys, fans are buying Caruso merchandise, too.

It’s a strange yet unsurprising reason the NBA won’t let Caruso change his number, especially given he’s only played one year in Chicago. And considering how trends go, Caruso’s jersey sales might even go higher now it’s publicly known the league didn’t want him to change his number.

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