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NBA legend Julius Erving doesn’t think commissioner Adam Silver should retire Kobe Bryant’s number league-wide like he did the late Bill Russell.
Unless he has already worn it, no NBA player will be able to wear No. 6 in the future, as Russell’s number will hang in the rafters of every team’s arena throughout the league. While Erving, who wore no. 6 during his career, he understands why the NBA decided to do that, he told TMZ that comparing Russell to Bryant wasn’t right.
“I don’t think it should be compared to the Russell situation,” Erving said at LAX airport. “We’re new to it, but let’s see how it works out. Maybe at some point. Bill was 86, so address it like this to an 86-year-old man: multiple champions, multiple coaches champions, multiple in-and-out champions. court, or whatever, there is no comparison.
Erving said Bryant’s situation should be handled by the Los Angeles Lakers, his former team. They already retired their No. 8 and No. December 24-January 18, 2017 before his tragic death on January 26, 2020.
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“If they wanted to do it, which I think they already have, it makes sense, but for the whole league to do it, probably not,” Erving said.
Erving added that he played with Bryant’s father, Joe Bryant, who was affectionately nicknamed Jellybean.
Erving was also good friends with Russell and understands what an impact he had on basketball, something no other player will ever be able to do.
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“Bill was a very special person and what he did for basketball, no one else could ever do again. So I think it’s completely justified to retire his number,” he said.
“He was a great friend of mine and may he rest in peace.”
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Russell, who was 88 years old at the time of his death, was an 11-time NBA champion and commanded two NBA championships as the first black head coach of any North American professional sports team, let alone of the NBA.
He was also a 12-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA honoree, five-time MVP and all of that led to an easy Hall of Fame decision.
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Bryant is also in the Hall, having been one of the best players in NBA on-court history. Bryant, an 18-time All-Star, racked up five titles in addition to the 2007-08 MVP. He was a two-time Finals MVP and a two-time scoring champion.
Bryant died along with his daughter and seven other people when their helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California, in January 2020.