NBA legend Bill Russell passed away peacefully yesterday at the age of 88.
Russell was the anchor in the Boston Celtics dynasty that won eleven championships in thirteen years (of which Bill served as player/coach in the final two championship runs), the hall of fame big man was vocal regarding equal rights.
Russell was the league’s first black coach. he also hosted Mississippi’s first integrated basketball camp in the wake of Medgar Evers’ assassination. Recognition of his decades of activism earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In addition to Russell’s accomplishments with the Boston Celtics, he was also a two-time All-American and won two straight NCAA championships during his college days. In 1956, he won a gold medal at the Olympics.
In 2009, the MVP trophy of the NBA Finals was named in Russell’s honor. He handed it to Kawhi Leonard in 2019, it was the last time he was well enough to present the award.
Acknowledgement from around the league was instantaneous.
Today, we lost a giant.
As tall as Bill Russell stood, his legacy rises far higher—both as a player and as a person.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 31, 2022
“Bill Russell was a pioneer — as a player, as a champion, as the NBA’s first Black head coach and as an activist. He paved the way and set an example for every Black player who came into the league after him, including me. The world has lost a legend.” -Michael Jordan
Bill Russell was the most powerful ambassador of the NBA. I held him in the highest regard and tried to build on the groundwork laid by him and his generation of players. Thank you, Bill, for leading the way and giving us such a high bar to shoot at.
— David Robinson (@DavidtheAdmiral) July 31, 2022
But in the end, it is Bill sho should have the last words on his legacy:
Thank you Bill, for shaping the game of basketball which we all love.
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