August 8, 2022
Boston Celtics legend and 11-time NBA champion Bill Russell’s 88.  died on

NBA legend Bill Russell, who led the Boston Celtics to a record 11 championships and is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, died on Sunday. He was 88 years old.

Russell’s family announces his death StatementSaying that he died peacefully with his wife Jeanine. The family did not disclose the cause of death.

The former 6’10” center dominated the NBA as a defensive and rebounding force in his 13-year career, winning five Most Valuable Player awards and becoming a 12-time All-Star between 1956 and 1969. He Also coached the Celtics. In the last three years of his playing career, leading the team to two more titles on top of nine achieved as a player, he was the first black head coach in the league.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Russell “stood for something much bigger than the sport: the values ​​of equality, respect and inclusion that he inculcated in the DNA of our league.”

“For the nearly 35 years since Bill completed his trailblazing career as the league’s first black head coach, we were fortunate to see him at every major NBA event, including the NBA Finals, where he won the Bill Russell Trophy as final MVP. Presented,” Silver said in a statement on Sunday. “Bills was the ultimate winner and consummate teammate, and his impact on the NBA will be felt forever.”

Russell’s family pointed to his long record of activism and social justice, saying, “An understanding of the struggle illuminated his life.”

The family said, “Bill invoked injustice with an unforgivable candor, intended to disrupt the status quo, and with a powerful example, though his humble intentions never inspired teamwork, selflessness and thoughtful change.” will do.” “Perhaps you’ll relive one or two of the golden moments he had, or remember his trademark laughter with delight in explaining the real story behind those moments unfolding. And we hope that we May each find a new way to act or speak with Bill’s unshakable, respectful and always constructive commitment to principle. This will be one last and lasting victory for our beloved #6.”

In 1980, Russell was voted the greatest player in NBA history by basketball writers. He remains the game’s most prolific winner and an epitome of selflessness, winning with defense and rebounding while leaving the scoring for others. Often, this meant Wilt Chamberlain, the only player of that era who was a worthy opponent of Russell.

But Russell dominated the only position he cared about: two from 11 championships.

Boston Basketball Coaches Bill Russell and Emmett Bryant
Boston Celtics player-coach Bill Russell and guard Emmett Bryant head for the showers after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 108-106 to capture their eleventh NBA championship on May 05, 1969.

Bateman


The Louisiana native made a lasting impression as a black athlete in a city and country—where races are often a flash point. He marched in Washington in 1963, when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, and he supported Muhammad Ali when the boxer was bullied for refusing to enlist in the military draft was.

In 2011, President Barack Obama awarded Russell the Medal of Freedom along with Congressman John Lewis, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and baseball great Stan Musiel.

“Bill Russell is someone who has stood up for the rights and dignity of all men,” Obama said at the ceremony. “He marched with the king; he stood with Ali. When a restaurant refused to serve Black Celtics, he refused to play in the prescribed game. He endured humiliation and vandalism, but he continued to focus on making the teammates he loved the better player. And made possible the success of so many people who would follow.”

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President Barack Obama presented Bill Russell with the Medal of Freedom.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


On Sunday, Obama said in a Statement That, “As tall as Bill Russell stood, his legacy rises far higher – both as a player and as a person.

Obama wrote, “Perhaps more than anyone else, Bill knew what it took to win and what it took to lead. On the court, he was the greatest champion in basketball history. Plus, he was a civil rights champion.” was the forerunner.”

President Biden called Russell “a great champion for freedom, equality and justice” on Sunday.

“From childhood in a different Louisiana to a career playing on the biggest stages in sports at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Bill encountered the racism and hatred inherent in every part of American life. Still, he never gave up. ,” Mr Biden wrote. “Throughout his life, he forced us to face harsh truths. And to this day, there are generations of Americans who are reflecting on what he meant to them as a person who Who has played for the essential truth that every person deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.”

Russell said that when he was growing up in the segregated South and later in California, his parents instilled in him a calm confidence that allowed him to shrug off the racist taunts.

“Years later, people asked me what I had to do,” Russell said in 2008. “Unfortunately, or fortunately, I was never able to do anything. From the first moment I was alive there was this impression that my mother and father loved me.” It was Russell’s mother telling him to disregard comments from people who could see him playing in the yard.

“Whatever they say, good or bad, they don’t know you,” she remembered him saying. “They’re wrestling with their own demons.”

But it was Jackie Robinson who gave Russell a road map for tackling racism in his sport: “Jackie was a hero to us. He always driven himself as a man. He made me want to be a man in professional sports.” led the way.”

The feeling was mutual, Russell learned, when Robinson’s widow, Rachel, called and asked him to be a pallbearer at her husband’s funeral in 1972.

“He hung up the phone and I asked myself, ‘How do you become a hero to Jackie Robinson? Russell said. “I was overjoyed.”

William Felton Russell was born on February 12, 1934, in Monroe, Louisiana. His family moved to the West Coast when he was a child, and he went to high school in Oakland, California and then the University of San Francisco. He led the Dons to the NCAA Championships in 1955 and 1956, and won a gold medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics in Australia.

Celtics coach and general manager Rad Auerbach liked Russell so much that he made a trade with the St. Louis Hawks for the second pick in the draft. He promised the Rochester Royals, who had the No. 1 pick, a fascinating tour of the Ice Capades, also run by Celtics owner Walter Brown. Still, Russell arrived in Boston and complained that he was not that good.

“People said it was a wasted draft option, wasted money,” he recalled. “He said, ‘He’s not that good. He can only block shots and rebounds.’ And Red said, ‘That’s it.'”

The Celtics also picked Tommy Heinsohn and Russell’s college teammate Casey Jones in the same draft. Although Russell joined the team late as he led America to Olympic gold, Boston finished the regular season with the league’s best record.

The Celtics won the NBA championship – their first of 17 – in a double-overtime seventh game against Bob Pettit’s St. Louis Hawks. The following season saw Russell win his first MVP award, but the Hawks won the title in the final rematch. The Celtics won it all again in 1959, starting an unprecedented series of eight consecutive NBA crowns.

Vishal Russell never averaged more than 18.9 points during his 13 seasons, averaging more rebounds per game than points each year. For 10 seasons he averaged more than 20 rebounds. He once made 51 rebounds in a game; Chamberlain holds the record with 55.

Auerbach retired after winning the 1966 title, and Russell became the player-coach—the first black head coach in NBA history, and nearly a decade before Frank Robinson took over baseball’s Cleveland Indians. Boston finished with the best regular-season record in the NBA, but lost to Chamberlain and the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Division Finals.

Russell brought the Celtics back to the title in 1968 and ’69, each time winning a seven-game playoff series against Chamberlain. Russell retired after the ’69 final, a relatively successful – but incomplete – four-year stint as coach and GM of the Seattle SuperSonics and a less fruitful half-season as coach of the Sacramento Kings.

Russell’s number 6 jersey was retired by the Celtics in 1972. He earned a spot on the NBA’s 25th Anniversary Team of All Time in 1970, 35th Anniversary Team in 1980, and 75th Anniversary Team. In 1996, he was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players of the NBA. In 2009, the MVP trophy of the NBA Finals was named in his honor.

In 2013, a statue was unveiled at the City Hall Plaza in Russell’s, Boston, surrounded by blocks of granite, with quotes on leadership and character. Russell was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975, but did not attend the ceremony, stating that he should not have been elected as the first African American. (The first black player in the NBA was Chuck Cooper.)

In 2019, Russell accepted his Hall of Fame ring at a private gathering. “I thought others before me should have got that respect,” he tweeted. “It’s nice to see the progress.”

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