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NBA retires Bill Russell’s number league-wide: Who were best Mavericks to wear it?

Dallas Mavericks, Tyson Chandler
Dallas Mavericks, Tyson Chandler / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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The Dallas Mavericks (https://thesmokingcuban.com/dallas-mavericks-news/) have retired four numbers in their franchise’s history after Dirk Nowitzki joined the club in January. No Mav will ever wear his number 41 again as the team’s GOAT joined Derek Harper, Brad Davis, and Rolando Blackman to have his jersey in the rafters at the American Airlines Center.

The NBA honored the legendary Bill Russell (https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/r/russebi01.html) by retiring his jersey (https://twitter.com/NBAPR/status/1557804441943871491) league-wide just days after his passing. Russell was one of the best players ever. He won 11 championships, was a 12-time All-Star, and won five MVP awards during his legendary career. Russell was a pioneer and well-deserving of this incredible honor.

Number 6 is being hung up in the rafters league-wide with the players who wore it last season grandfathered in. LeBron James can still wear it until he retires, but zero new talent can choose to don six. With it being eliminated, who were the best Mavericks to wear Russell’s number?

NBA retires Bill Russell’s number league-wide: Who were best Mavericks to wear it?

The Mavs have had 17 players wear the number six (https://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/DAL/numbers.html), which is the second-most in their franchise’s history. 21 is the most worn number with 19 different players.

The number six changed hands a lot in the early 2000s, and it was the number of many forgotten Mavericks. Kristaps Porzingis will be the last Maverick to ever wear it after donning the number for the last three seasons before being traded for Spencer Dinwiddie at the trade deadline. 

Who were the best Mavericks to rock number six before it was retired league-wide to honor Bill Russell? Let us take a closer look.

Best Dallas Mavericks to wear Bill Russell’s number 6: 3. Marquis Daniels

Daniels went undrafted in 2003 coming out of Auburn, but he worked his way onto the Mavs roster during training camp. He played spot minutes early in the season but struggled to find a consistent role. Steve Nash sat out against the Sonics in early March, and head coach Don Nelson decided to give Daniels the start. The rookie exploded for 14 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists in 44 minutes of action as the Mavericks picked up the win.

Daniels was in the rotation for the remainder of the season and even moved into the starting five a few weeks later. The Mavericks lost to the Sacramento Kings in the first round of the playoffs, but Daniels averaged 15.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.0 steals in 37.0 minutes per game.

Daniels spent three seasons in Dallas, and he was a role player on the 2006 squad that reached the NBA Finals. He started 29 games and played 28.5 minutes per during the regular season. His playing time decreased in the playoffs, but Daniels still made an impact.

After that run, he was traded to the Indiana Pacers for Austin Croshere, but that was enough to earn him the spot as the third-best number six in Dallas Mavericks history.

Best Dallas Mavericks to wear Bill Russell’s number 6: 2. Kristaps Porzingis

KP’s time in Dallas did not go as planned, but that should not take away from what he accomplished. The Mavs acquired him in a blockbuster deal back in 2019 that also brought Tim Hardaway Jr. to Dallas, and saw them ship out lottery pick Dennis Smith Jr. and two first-round draft choices. They were hoping the Unicorn would become the second star next to Luka Doncic on a championship team.

Instead, Porzingis was above average, but his limitations on both ends of the floor cost the Mavs when it mattered most. Still, the Unicorn helped Dallas reach the playoffs two straight years, and they were close to defeating the LA Clippers both times.

KP averaged 20.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.7 blocks in 31.0 minutes per game in his two and a half seasons with the Mavericks. An unfortunate knee injury in the playoffs likely cost Dallas the series inside the bubble, and he was relegated to a smaller role in the 2021 playoffs.

Things never quite went as planned, but Kristaps Porzingis was still the second-best Maverick to ever wear number six. He was traded to the Wizards at the trade deadline last season for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans in a move that helped spark the Dallas Mavericks to the conference finals.

Best Dallas Mavericks to wear Bill Russell’s number 6: 1. Tyson Chandler

The competition for the best Maverick to ever wear number six was not that close, despite Chandler only playing two seasons in Dallas that came four years apart.

The Mavs traded for the seven-footer in 2010 to anchor their defense, and he was just the piece they needed. He started 95 games that season, and his rebounding and rim protection were key parts of Dallas winning the championship. Chandler made the All-Defensive team for the first time in what was an incredible season and playoff run by number six and the Dallas Mavericks.

Owner Mark Cuban decided to break up the title team after the lockout, and Tyson Chandler was traded to New York for what amounted to zero return.

The Mavs would re-acquire him during the 2014 offseason and for the second time, he was outstanding in Dallas. Chandler averaged 10.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 30.5 minutes per game as the Mavericks reached the playoffs before being knocked out by the Houston Rockets in the first round.

Tyson Chandler wore number six because of Bill Russell, and he got the chance to tell him that after the Dallas Mavericks won the title in 2011. Fans can see the clip below.

Russell was the ultimate winner and a true legend. The NBA rightfully honored him by retiring his jersey league-wide, and Chandler will go down as the best Mavericks to ever wear number six. Fitting as it was a tribute to Russell.

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