(Reuters) - NBA legend Bill Russell was cited on Wednesday for having a loaded gun in his carry-on luggage at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, federal and airport officials said on Saturday.

Transportation Security Administration officials found a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun in a male passenger's carry-on bag on Wednesday evening, according to a TSA spokeswoman. The man was traveling to Boston.

An airport spokesman, in a recorded telephone message, identified the passenger as Russell, the 79-year-old National Basketball Association Hall of Famer, who lives in the Seattle area.

The TSA spokeswoman said the gun contained six rounds. TSA contacted Port of Seattle police, who cited Russell for having a weapon in a prohibited area, a state violation, the airport message said. The firearm was confiscated, and Russell was released.

Firearms are prohibited in carry-on baggage. They may be carried unloaded in checked baggage and stored in a locked, hard-sided container, according to the TSA.

A representative for Russell could not be reached for comment.

Russell had been a star with the Boston Celtics in the 1950s and 60s, and was named NBA most valuable player five times. He later served as coach of the Seattle SuperSonics during the 1970s.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Eric Beech)