Bill Russell NBA Basketball Legend Dies at 88

Bill Russell NBA Basketball Legend Dies at 88

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Bill Russell, an NBA great who underpinned the Boston Celtics dynasty that won 11 championships in 13 years, the last two in major U.S. sports. As the first black head coach, he marched for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr.

His family posted the news on social media, saying Russell had died along with his wife Janine, the statement did not disclose the cause of his death.

“Bill’s wife, Janine, and his many friends and family, thank you for continuing to pray for Bill. Perhaps we will remember one or two of the golden moments he gave us, You’ll remember his trademark laugh as he happily explained the true story behind how those moments unfolded. I hope we can find new ways to act and speak out with a commitment to dignified, always constructive principles.It will last and last for our beloved #6. It will be a decisive victory.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement that Russell is “the greatest champion of all team sports.”

“Bill stood for something much bigger than sport: the values ​​of equality, respect and inclusion he instilled in our league’s DNA.At the height of his athletic career, Bill became a civic It’s a legacy that spans generations of NBA players who have followed in his footsteps, tirelessly advocating for rights and social justice,” said Silver.

“Overcoming ridicule, intimidation and unimaginable adversity, Bill stood above all else and remained true to his belief that all people deserve to be treated with dignity.

A Hall of Famer, five-time Most Valuable Player, and 12-time All-Star, Russell was named his NBA All-Time Greatest Player in 1980 by Basketball Writers. He remains the most prolific winner in the sport, epitomizing the selflessness of winning on defense and rebounding while delegating scoring to others. In many cases, that meant Wilt Chamberlain, the only player of the era worthy of Russell’s rivalry.

But Russell dominated in the only stat he cares about: 11 championships to 2 championships.

The Louisiana native has left a lasting mark as a black athlete in a city and country where racing is often a hotspot. He participated in his 1963 March on Washington, where Martin Luther King his Jr. delivered the “I have a dream” speech. When Muhammad Ali was exposed for refusing to be drafted, he supported Muhammad Ali.

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

At the ceremony, Obama said, “Bill Russell was someone who stood up for the rights and dignity of every man. He marched with King. When he refused to serve, he refused to play in a scheduled match. We have continued to focus on and enabled the success of so many others that have followed.”

Russell said that growing up in the segregated South and later California, his parents instilled in him a gentle sense of confidence that allowed him to brush off racist provocations.

“After a few years, people asked me what I had to go through,” Russell said in 2008. From the first moment I was born, I had the idea that my mother and father loved me. It was Russell’s mother who told Russell to ignore comments from people who saw him playing in the garden.

“No matter what they say, for better or worse, they don’t know you,” he recalls her words. “They are wrestling with their own demons.”

But it was Jackie Robinson who gave Russell the roadmap for dealing with racism in his sport. He always acted like a man. He taught me how to be a professional sports man. “

Russell found their mutual feelings aligned in 1972 when Robinson’s widow, Rachel, called and asked to be her pallbearer at her husband’s funeral.

“She hung up and I asked myself, ‘How can I be Jackie Robinson’s hero?'” Russell said. “I was very honored.”

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

Celtics coach and general manager Red Orbach was so desperate for Russell that he got the second pick in the draft in a trade with the St. Louis Hawks. He promised the Rochester Royals, who had the No. 1 pick, a lucrative visit by Ice Capades, which was also run by Celtics owner Walter Brown. Still, Russell arrived in Boston complaining that he was not so good.

Still, Russell arrived in Boston with a complaint that he was not so good. “People said it was a wasted draft choice, wasted money,” he recalled. “They said, ‘He’s no good. All he can do is block shots and rebound.’ And Red said, ‘That’s enough.’

The Celtics also took Tom Heinsohn and K.C. Jones in the same draft, Russell’s college teammate. Russell joined the team late as he was leading the United States to Olympic gold, but Boston finished the regular season with the best record in the league.

The Celtics won the NBA Championship (first game of the 17th round) in the second overtime game against Bob Pettit’s St. Louis Hawks. Russell won his first MVP award next season, but the Hawks won the title in a rematch of the Finals. The Celtics won it all again in 1959, starting an unprecedented string of eight straight NBA crowns.

The 6-foot-10 center has never averaged more than 18.9 points in 13 seasons, averaging more rebounds than points per game each year. During his 10 seasons, he averaged over 20 rebounds. He once had 51 rebounds in a game. Chamberlain holds the record at 55.

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

Russell brought the Celtics back to the title in 1968 and 69, winning a seven-game playoff series against Chamberlain each time. Russell retired after the ’69 Finals, serving a 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 No. 6 jersey was retired by the Celtics in 1972. He won spots on the NBA’s 25th Anniversary Team in 1970, 35th Anniversary Team in 1980, and 75th Anniversary Team. In 1996, he was hailed as one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players. In 2009, the NBA Finals MVP Trophy was named in his honor.

In 2013, a statue surrounded by granite blocks was unveiled at Boston’s Russell City Hall Square. There are quotes about leadership and character. Russell was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975, but did not attend the ceremony, saying he should never have been elected the first African-American. (Chuck Cooper, the NBA’s first black player, was his choice.)

In 2019, Russell accepted his Hall of Fame ring at a private gathering. “He felt others should have that honor before him,” he tweeted. “I’m happy to see your progress.”

“I cherish my friendship with Bill and he was thrilled when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” Silver said in his statement. “I often referred to him as the Babe Ruth of basketball because he transcended time. Bill was the ultimate winner, teammate, and his impact on the NBA will last forever.

Timeless laughter. Bill is a recognizable part of Russell, much like his image of him stepping onto the court in the Celtics’ number 6 jersey, grabbing rebounds and hitting opponents’ shots. Red Auerbach reportedly said one of his only reasons for quitting coaching was Bill Russell’s laughter.

But the high-pitched cackle was loved by many more. And it left the mark of another Katie Russell lesson: his mother told him never to hold back.

Our Deepest condolences to his wife, Jeanine, his family and many of his friends. “

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