Getty Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso responds to a call during a playoff fight with the Milwaukee Bucks.
One of basketball’s ultimate icons was lost over the summer when Boston Celtics legend and 11-time NBA champion Bill Russell passed away at the age of 88. To honor the man for all he has accomplished both on and off the hardwood, the league made the decision in August to retire Russell’s No. 6 in the association.
The only caveat to this sweeping move was that players who were already wearing the No.6 on their shirts had the option of either continuing to do so or giving up the number voluntarily.
For Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso, picking a new number wasn’t a big deal. After a bit of deliberation, he was okay with letting the No. 6 go for Russell.
When the baller finally wanted to change gear, those in power forbade him from doing so, despite the league-wide retirement. And the reason Caruso was blocked may come as a surprise to some.
Caruso couldn’t give up #6 for a wild reason PlayLive: Alex Caruso Media Day Press ConferenceFor more exclusive videos, please subscribe to our channel or visit Bulls.com — ADD US ON: INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/chicagobulls/ FACEBOOK: facebook.com /chicagobulls TWITTER: twitter.com/chicagobulls SNAPCHAT: snapchat.com/add/chicagobulls LINKEDIN: linkedin.com/company/chicago-bulls2022-09-26T19:28:24Z
At Bulls Media Day on Monday, Caruso spoke about the situation with his No. 6 and this is what he said:
“I was thinking about changing it this year and the NBA told me I couldn’t because I’m in the top 75 for jersey sales. So, that’s like a rule. Call me.”
Yes, Caruso — an undrafted guy with just 37 career starts and a lifetime scoring average of 6.2 PPG — is apparently a hot commodity on the jersey scene. Still, Caruso made it clear that he’s ready to change his number as soon as he loses his spot on the sales charts.
“Apparently, [I] wanting to do nothing but honor him and his legacy and what he stood for. He’s one of the pioneers — a racist advocate for the game of basketball in general, and just an all-round great person,” Caruso said. “I don’t know anyone who speaks about him or knew him who had anything negative to say …
“I’ll probably try to get a different number next year.”
Caruso has no particular bond with No. 6; He wore the number 4 during his four seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. And he rocked No. 21 as a fellow at Texas A&M.
In fact, he only moved to No. 6 because his old No. 4 honoring the “Original Bull,” Jerry Sloan, was already hanging in the rafters of the United Center. Additionally, Caruso felt that #6 was the “best looking” single digit available to him.
Caruso is the starting favorite at point guard
Of course, the Bulls are likely more concerned about which player will hold Lonzo Ball’s starting spot while the point guard recovers from his recent surgery than what number they – or anyone else – will wear on their jersey.
The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry believes Caruso is a step ahead of the competition in that department.
“When the regular season ended, when it was time to win or go home, Donovan did what most coaches do,” Mayberry said. “He trusted his veteran. He seeded rookie Ayo Dosunmu and started Caruso as lead guard. It helped the Bulls win Game 2 [against the Milwaukee Bucks] and revealed a lot about Donovan’s decision making.
“Therefore, Caruso must be considered the favorite for the premiere starter instead of Ball.”