Considering the Sixers-Celtics rivalry has heated up over the last few years, matchups between the two Eastern Conference contenders have generated a lot of buzz. Therefore, the NBA decided to make Philly versus Boston one of two opening night matchups on prime time.
On October 18, the Sixers will visit the Celtics at TD Garden Arena. The game will tip off at 7:30 PM EST., and it will feature a special tribute as the Celtics reportedly plan to honor the late-great Bill Russell throughout the night.
According to Celtics’ majority owner Wyc Grousbesck, Boston is “planning a celebration” for the former NBA Champion just months after he passed away at the age of 88.
“We’re in consultation with his widow and his family, and there are sensitivities to doing anything over the top,” said Grousbesck, according to the Boston Globe. “But we’re going to be honoring Bill Russell.”
Several teams across the league might consider honoring Russell at some point during the season, but the Celtics, to no surprise, will be the first organization to honor the legend.
When Russell fired up his NBA career, he played for the Celtics from the jump and remained with the organization throughout his entire playing career, which ended after the 1969 season.
During his 13-year career, Russell earned 12 All-Star nods, five MVP trophies and helped the Celtics be crowned NBA champions 11 times.
In 1975, Russell was inducted into the Hall of Fame. When the NBA announced the 75th Anniversary Team last year, Russell was included along with former 76ers such as Charles Barkley, Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham, Julius Erving, Hal Greer, Allen Iverson, Moses Malone, Bob McAdoo, and Dolph Schayes.
The Celtics remain unsure how they will honor Russell against the Sixers next months as the conversations between the team and Russell’s family are ongoing.
But what we know so far is that the Celtics plan to have “imagery on the court” and will honor Russell on their opening night uniforms. In addition, the entire league will retire No. 6.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.