Boston Celtics Legend Bill Russell has Died
As reported by the AP, Bill Russell, 11 time world champion with the Boston Celtics has died at age 88. A prodigious rebounder and consummate team player, Russell rose to prominence at the University of San Francisco leading the team to back to back NCAA championships and then winning a gold medal in the Olympics. From 1956 to 1969 he ruled the court. A five-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a 12-time NBA All-Star, he was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty that won 11 NBA championships during his 13-year career.
He was selected into the NBA 25th Anniversary Team in 1971 and the NBA 35th Anniversary Team in 1980, named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996,one of only four players to receive all three honors, and selected into the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021. In 2009, the NBA renamed in his honor the NBA Finals’ Most Valuable Player trophy to the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. In 2011, Barack Obama awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his accomplishments on the court and in the civil rights movement.
Here is a statement from Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA:
NEW YORK – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued the following statement today regarding the passing of Bill Russell:
“Bill Russell was the greatest champion in all of team sports. The countless accolades that he earned for his storied career with the Boston Celtics – including a record 11 championships and five MVP awards – only begin to tell the story of Bill’s immense impact on our league and broader society.
“Bill stood for something much bigger than sports: the values of equality, respect and inclusion that he stamped into the DNA of our league. At the height of his athletic career, Bill advocated vigorously for civil rights and social justice, a legacy he passed down to generations of NBA players who followed in his footsteps. Through the taunts, threats and unthinkable adversity, Bill rose above it all and remained true to his belief that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity.
“For 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 presented the Bill Russell Trophy to the Finals MVP.
“I cherished my friendship with Bill and was thrilled when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I often called him basketball’s Babe Ruth for how he transcended time. Bill was the ultimate winner and consummate teammate, and his influence on the NBA will be felt forever. We send our deepest condolences to his wife, Jeannine, his family and his many friends.”