11 Time NBA Champion Bill Russell died on Sunday at 88. His family posted the news on social media saying that his wife Jeanine is with them. The cause of death was not given in the statement.
Bill Russell was a great player Bill Russell redefined how basketball was played, and then he changed the way sports were viewed in a racially divided country.
The most prolific winner in the history of the NBA National Basketball Association, Russell marched with Martin Luther King Jr., supported Muhammad Ali and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. The centerpiece of the Boston Celtics dynasty that won 11 championships in 13 years, Russell earned his last two NBA titles as player-coach — the most in any major U.S. team. Most in the team. The first black coach in the sport.
Bill Russell died on Sunday at the age of 88. His family posted the news on social media via a tweet saying that his wife Jeanine is with them. The statement did not specify a cause of death, but Russell was not well enough to present the NBA Finals MVP Trophy in June due to a prolonged illness.
An announcement… pic.twitter.com/KMJ7pG4R5Z
— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) July 31, 2022
“Bill Russell’s wife, Jeanine, and many of his friends and family thanked Bill for keeping him in our prayers. May you relive one or two of his golden moments, or remember his trademark laugh because He was happy to explain the truth as the story of those moments is unfolding before him,” the family statement said. A new way of doing or speaking may be found.
National Basketball Association NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement that Bill Russell was “the greatest champion of all team sports”.
“Bill Russell stood for something much bigger than a sport: the values of equality, respect and inclusion he instilled in our league’s DNA. At the height of his athletic career, Bill vigorously advocated civil rights and social justice, a legacy He gave generations of NBA players who followed in his footsteps,” Silver said. Through taunts, threats, and unimaginable adversity, Bill has risen above all else and lived up to his belief that everyone deserves to be respected.”
A Hall of Famer, five-time Most Valuable Player, and 12-time All-Star, Russell was voted the greatest player in NBA history by basketball writers in 1980. He remains the sport’s most decorated champion—he’s also won two college titles and an Olympic gold medal—and an epitome of selflessness that won with defense and rebounding, while others put up impressive scoring totals.
Often, this meant the only worthy opponent of Russell’s era, Wilt Chamberlain, and his major competition for the Rebels, MVP trophies, and barroom arguments over who was better. Chamberlain, who died in 1999 at age 63, had twice as many points, four MVP trophies of his own, and is the only man in league history to score more rebounds than Russell – 23,924 to 21,620.
But Russell dominated the only position he cared about: two of the 11 championships.
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 King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, and he supported Muhammad Ali when the boxer was bullied for refusing to join the military draft.
“It sounds unimaginable to be the biggest champion in your sport, revolutionize the way you play the game, and be a social leader all at once, but that’s what Bill Russell was,” the Boston Celtics said in a statement.
In 2011, Obama awarded Russell the Medal of Freedom along with Congressman John Lewis, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and baseball great Stan Muse.
“Bill Russell is a man who has stood up for the rights and dignity of all men,” Obama said at the ceremony. “He went with the king; he stood by Ali. When a restaurant refused to serve the Black Celtics, he refused to play in the scheduled game. He endured the humiliation and vandalism, but he kept the team,
Russell said that when he was growing up in the segregated South and later in California, his parents instilled in him calm confidence that allowed him to avoid racist taunts.
“Years later, people asked me what to do,” Russell said in 2008. “Unfortunately, or fortunately, I was never able to do anything. From the very first moment I was alive, it felt like 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 drove himself as a man. He made me want to be a man in professional sports.” led 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 Red 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 Lal said, ‘That’s it.'”
The Celtics defeated Tommy Heinsohn and Casey. Jones, Russell’s college fellow, is in the same draft. However, Russell joined the team late as he won the U.S. quest for Olympic gold. Search won. Boston finished the regular season with the league’s best record.
against Bob Pettit’s St. Louis Hawks. Russell won his first MVP award the next season, but the Hawks won the title in a finals rematch. The Celtics won it all again in 1959, starting an unprecedented string of eight consecutive NBA crowns.
A 6-foot-10 center, Russell never averaged more than 18.9 points during his 13 seasons, each year averaging more rebounds per game than points. For 10 seasons he averaged more than 20 rebounds. He once had 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 almost a decade before Frank Robinson took over baseball’s Cleveland Indians. Boston finished with the second-best regular-season record in the NBA, and its title streak ended with a loss to Chamberlain and the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Division finals.
Russell led the Celtics back to titles in 1968 and ’69, each time winning seven-game playoff series against Chamberlain. Russell retired after the ’69 finals, returning for a relatively successful — but unfulfilling — 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 earned spots on the NBA’s 25th anniversary all-time team in 1970, the 35th-anniversary team in 1980, and the 75th-anniversary team. In 1996, he was hailed as one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players.
In 2009, the MVP trophy of the NBA Finals was named in his honor — even though Russell never won himself, because it wasn’t awarded for the first time until 1969. Russell, however, traditionally presented the trophy for many years, the last time in 2019 to Kawhi Leonard; Russell was not there in 2020 because of the NBA bubble nor in 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns.
In 2013, a statue was unveiled on Boston’s City Hall Plaza of Russell 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, saying he should not have been the first African American elected. (Chuck Cooper, the NBA’s first Black player, was his choice.)