The Boston Celtics have painted Bill Russell’s No. 6 in the free-throw lanes of their parquet floor as part of a season-long tribute planned for the Hall of Famer, who died this summer.

“The team has added the number 6 to both lanes to pay homage to Bill Russell’s dominant play in the paint,” the Celtics said on Monday.

The team has said it will honor Russell in other ways this season, including two nights in his honor – one for the Oct. 18 season opener and one on Feb. 12, which would have been his 89th birthday. The Celtics will also wear a special Russell-themed jersey for some of their games. There will also be something on their regular uniforms to honor him.

The NBA has announced that every team in the league will retire the No. 6 in honor of the civil rights pioneer and 11-time NBA champion, who died on July 31. Every other home court will display the No. 6 on the sideline near the scorer’s table.

• Kane Fitzgerald, who spent 13 years working as an NBA referee, has been announced as the league’s new vice president of referee operations and replay center principal. He’s replacing another former referee in Jason Phillips, who left the job after three years.


The 41-year-old Fitzgerald officially started his new job Sunday at the opening of the league’s annual preseason referee meetings.

“I’ve always kind of been excited about new challenges, and it’s a rare opportunity that you can come off the floor as a referee and find a position in the NBA of this magnitude,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m excited about the challenge, something new, something different, seeing if I can grow into the role and being as successful as I was on the floor.”

Fitzgerald worked his way up the ranks steadily throughout his on-court career. At 18, he was officiating high school games in his native New Jersey, introduced to the job by his father – who has been a referee for 49 years and is still working games.

From there, Fitzgerald did stints at the college level – the Big South, Atlantic Sun and Ohio Valley conferences – before two years in the WNBA and four more in the G League. He was picked to work four NBA Finals games, the last of those coming this past season in the Boston-Golden State series.

In his new role, Fitzgerald will oversee the day-to-day operations of the NBA Replay Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. He also will be involved with referee operations in ways such as creating training videos and interpreting the rules of the game for officials, teams, broadcasters and media.

The move allows Fitzgerald to have a more normal schedule with his family. The work will remain demanding and travel will still be involved – his home is in Florida now, the job is in New Jersey – but not officiating 50 or more games a year will bring a better work-life balance.


WNBA: The Dallas Wings aren’t picking up the team option on Coach Vickie Johnson’s contract, cutting ties after two seasons with the first coach to win a playoff game since the franchise moved to Texas.

Wings President and CEO Greg Bibb said the decision was “the best opportunity to achieve our long-term goals of advancing in the playoffs and ultimately competing for a WNBA championship.”

Johnson was 32-36 in two seasons with a 1-3 playoff record. The postseason victory, in Game 2 of a first-round series against Connecticut, was the first for the franchise since 2009. The Sun reached the WNBA Finals, losing to Las Vegas in four games.

The Wings made the playoffs in Johnson’s first season as well but were blown out by Chicago in a first-round game. The league expanded the opening round to a best-of-three format this season.

The 50-year-old Johnson was a two-time All-Star in the WNBA before becoming a coach. She spent seven years as an assistant with the San Antonio Silver Spurs before one season as coach.

When the San Antonio franchise moved to Las Vegas, Johnson stayed with the club as an assistant on Bill Laimbeer’s staff.


The Wings franchise just completed its 25th season, the last seven in the Dallas area. The first 12 years were in Detroit, followed by six in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


NHL: The Edmonton Oilers signed Jake Virtanen to a professional tryout agreement, two months after the former Vancouver forward was found not guilty of sexual assault.

Virtanen was charged in January in connection with an incident in a downtown Vancouver hotel room in September 2017. He was with the Canucks when the allegations surfaced in May 2021 and the team placed him on leave and bought out his contract the following month. He was found not guilty in July.

Virtanen, 26, appeared in 36 games for Spartak Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League last season, scoring nine goals and adding seven assists. Selected by the Canucks sixth overall in the 2014 NHL draft, Virtanen has 55 goals, 45 assists and 219 penalty minutes over six NHL seasons.

The Oilers also announced that 34-year-old defenseman Jason Demers had signed a PTO with the team. Demers, of Laval, Quebec, played five games in the KHL last season and had two assists in five games for Canada at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.


Demers was selected by San Jose in the seventh round of the 2008 draft. He has 45 goals, 169 assists and 407 penalty minutes over 699 games with San Jose, Dallas, Florida and Arizona. He had four assists in 41 games for the Coyotes in 2020-21.


SOCCER: Senegal forward Keita Balde will likely miss the World Cup after being suspended for three months for a doping violation.

Keita, who plays for Spartak Moscow in Russia, was suspended until Dec. 5 by the Italian national anti-doping agency for violating the testing procedure when he played for Cagliari last season.

Spartak stressed “the sample taken from Keita that day found no banned substances” but added that “any doping-related sanction imposed by another national or international sports association, or national anti-doping organization, is automatically accepted by FIFA and must be recognized by all confederations and associations.”

Keita will not even be able to return to training until 22 days before the ban expires.


The World Cup takes place in Qatar from Nov. 20 to Dec. 18. Senegal is in a group with the Netherlands, Ecuador and the host nation.


PAN PACIFIC OPEN: Elise Mertens won the first three games before Typhoon Nanmadol forced the match to be halted, and then won the next three when they resumed in a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Qiang Wang in Tokyo.

Wang was serving when the rain started, forcing play to be suspended for 45 minutes while the roof at Ariake Coliseum was closed.

The 30-year-old Chinese player managed to get to 3-3 in the second set but Mertens then won the last three games to advance to the second round.

Claire Liu advanced by beating Alison Riske-Amritraj 6-2, 6-3, while Xinyu Wang defeated Ellen Perez 7-5, 1-6, 6-4.

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