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Bill Russell, NBA celestial body with every one other accompanied by secular rights pioneer, dies at 88

Bill Russell, NBA celestial body accompanied by every one one other accompanied by secular rights pioneer, dies at 88

BOSTON (AP) — Bill Russell redefined how basketball is played, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by at that hour dated he changed the way sports are viewed inside a racially divided country.

The most prolific winner inside NBA history, Russell marched accompanied by Martin Luther King Jr., stood accompanied by Muhammad Ali accompanied by every one one other accompanied by received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. The centerpiece of the Boston Celtics dynasty that won 11 championships inside 13 years, Russell earned his last place of set of two NBA titles while a player-coach — the earliest Black bus inside some greatest U.S. sport.

Russell died Sunday at the number of years of 88, accompanied by his wife, Jeannine, at his side, his family said inside a statement posted on communal media. No spring of demise was unswerving away available; Russell, who had been living inside the Seattle area, was not well sufficient to inside attendance the NBA Finals MVP trophy inside June due to a lengthy illness.

"We hope every one one of us tin find a new way to lay clasp of deed or speak up accompanied by Bill's uncompromising, dignified accompanied by every one one other accompanied by always constructive commitment to principle," the family said. "That would exist one last, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by lasting, go nearer earliest inside for our beloved #6."

A Hall of Famer, five-time Most Valuable Player accompanied by every one one other accompanied by 12-time All-Star, Russell inside 1980 was voted the greatest player inside the NBA history by basketball writers. He remains the sport's most decorated champion — he excessively won place of set of two college titles accompanied by every one one other accompanied by an Olympic gold medal medal medal — accompanied by every one one other accompanied by an archetype of selflessness who won accompanied by defence accompanied by every one one other accompanied by rebounding while others racked up gaudy scoring totals.

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Often, that meant Wilt Chamberlain, the only worthy competitor of Russell's epoch accompanied by every one one other accompanied by his main competition for rebounds, MVP trophies accompanied by every one one other accompanied by barroom arguments concerning who was better. Chamberlain, who died inside 1999 at 63, had twice while numerous points, quartet MVP trophies of his own accompanied by every one one other accompanied by is the only anthropoid actuality inside alliance history to seize additional rebounds than Russell — 23,924 to 21,620.

But Russell dominated inside the only stat he cared about: 11 championships to two.

"Bill Russell was the greatest champion inside all of team sports," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. More importantly, he added: "Bill stood for something a a large amount of bigger than sports: the values of equality, esteem accompanied by every one one other accompanied by inclusion that he stamped into the DNA of our league."

In a statement released by the White House, President Joe Biden praised Russell for his lifelong labour inside secular fair while well while inside sports, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by called him "a towering champion for freedom, equality, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by justice."

"Bill Russell is one of the greatest athletes inside our history - an all-time champion of champions, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by a good male accompanied by every one one other accompanied by great American who did every one thing he could to deliver the word of honour of America for all Americans," Biden said.

Reaction poured inside Sunday, from Obama to Michael Jordan, from Magic Johnson to Boston's Mayor, Michelle Wu.

"Today, we lost a giant," Obama said. "As tall while Bill Russell stood, his legacy rises a lengthy way higher — both while a player accompanied by every one one other accompanied by while a person. Perhaps additional than anyone else, Bill knew what it took to go nearer earliest inside accompanied by every one one other accompanied by what it took to lead."

A Louisiana native, Russell excessively left-hand a lasting mark while a Black sportswoman inside a city — accompanied by every one one other accompanied by country — where competition is regularly a flash point. He was at the March on Washington inside 1963, when King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by he backed Ali when the boxer was pilloried for refusing induction into the military draft.

In 2011, Obama awarded Russell the Medal of Freedom alongside Congressman John Lewis, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel accompanied by every one one other accompanied by baseball great Stan Musial.

"To exist the greatest champion inside your sport, to revolutionize the way the game is played, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by to exist a societal leader all at on one instance seems unthinkable," the Celtics said on Sunday. "But that is who Bill Russell was."

Russell said that when he was growing up inside the segregated South accompanied by every one one other accompanied by subsequent California his parents instilled inside him the serene trust that allowed him to brush off racist taunts.

"Years later, people asked me what I had to go through," Russell said inside 2008. "Unfortunately, or fortunately, I've never been into with every one other accompanied by not here of anything. From my earliest little while of actuality living was the idea that my mother accompanied by every one one other accompanied by father loved me." It was Russell's mother who would tell him to disregard comments from those who ability see him playing inside the yard.

"Whatever they say, good or bad, they don't know you," he recalled her saying. "They're wrestling accompanied by their own demons."

But it was Jackie Robinson who gave Russell a main highway scheme for dealing accompanied by racism inside his sport: "Jackie was a courageous male to us. He always conducted himself while a man. He showed me the way to exist a male inside professional sports."

The be in touch was mutual, Russell learned, when Robinson's widow, Rachel, called accompanied by every one one other accompanied by asked him to exist a pallbearer at her husband's burial inside 1972.

"She hung the phone up accompanied by every one one other accompanied by I asked myself, 'How do you obtain to exist a courageous male to Jackie Robinson?'" Russell said. "I was so flattered."

William Felton Russell was born on Feb. 12, 1934, inside Monroe, Louisiana. He was a child when his family moved to the West Coast, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by he went to high educational organization inside Oakland, California, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by at that hour dated the University of San Francisco. He led the Dons to NCAA championships inside 1955 accompanied by every one one other accompanied by 1956 accompanied by every one one other accompanied by won a gold medal medal medal inside 1956 at the Melbourne Olympics inside Australia.

Celtics bus accompanied by every one one other accompanied by general administrative Red Auerbach so coveted Russell that he worked not here a commerce accompanied by the St. Louis Hawks for the following pick inside the draft. He promised the Rochester Royals, who owned the No. 1 pick, a lucrative pay someone a call by the Ice Capades, which were excessively sprint by Celtics owner Walter Brown.

Still, Russell arrived inside Boston to complaints that he wasn't that good. "People said it was a wasted preliminary report choice, wasted money," he recalled. "They said, 'He's no indeed indeed good. All he tin do is chunk shots accompanied by every one one other accompanied by rebound.' And Red said, 'That's enough.'"

The Celtics excessively picked up Tommy Heinsohn accompanied by every one one other accompanied by K.C. Jones, Russell's college teammate, inside the same draft. Although Russell joined the team late since he was leading the U.S. to the Olympic gold, Boston finished the constant hour dated accompanied by the league's finest record.

The Celtics won the NBA championship — their earliest of 17 — inside a double-overtime seventh game opposed to Bob Pettit's St. Louis Hawks. Russell won his earliest MVP award the following season, nevertheless the Hawks won the title inside a finals rematch. The Celtics won it all on one instance additional inside 1959, starting an unprecedented twine of eight consecutive NBA crowns.

A 6-foot-10 center, Russell never averaged additional than 18.9 points all over his 13 seasons, every one one year producing additional rebounds than points. For 10 seasons he averaged additional than 20 rebounds. He on one instance had 51 rebounds inside a game; Chamberlain holds the record accompanied by 55.

Auerbach former following winning the 1966 title, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by Russell became the player-coach — the earliest Black head bus inside NBA history, accompanied by every one one other accompanied by almost a decade earlier to Frank Robinson took over Cleveland inside baseball's American League. Boston's title streak ended accompanied by a mislaying to Chamberlain accompanied by every one one other accompanied by the Philadelphia 76ers inside the Eastern Division finals.

Russell led the Celtics spine to titles inside 1968 accompanied by every one one other accompanied by '69, every one one hour dated winning seven-game playoff series opposed to Chamberlain. Russell former following the '69 finals, returning for a relatively victorious — nevertheless unfulfilling — four-year stint while bus accompanied by every one one other accompanied by GM of the Seattle SuperSonics accompanied by every one one other accompanied by a less fruitful fifty per cent of hour dated while bus of the Sacramento Kings.

Russell's No. 6 jersey was former by the Celtics inside 1972. He earned spots on the NBA's 25th anniversary all-time team inside 1970, 35th anniversary team inside 1980 accompanied by every one one other accompanied by 75th anniversary team. In 1996, he was hailed while one of the NBA's 50 greatest players.

In 2009, the MVP trophy of the NBA Finals was named inside his honor. (Russell never won the honor, since it was awarded for the earliest hour dated inside 1969.) He presented his namesake trophy for numerous years, the last inside 2019 to Kawhi Leonard; Russell was not there inside 2020 since of the NBA globule nor inside 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns.

In 2013, a sculpture was unveiled on Boston's City Hall Plaza of Russell surrounded by blocks of granite accompanied by quotes on leadership accompanied by every one one other accompanied by character. Russell was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame inside 1975 nevertheless did not attend the ceremony, saying he should not have been the earliest African American elected. (Chuck Cooper, the NBA's earliest Black player, was his choice.)

In 2019, Russell accepted his Hall of Fame ring inside a private gathering.

"I felt others earlier to me should have had that honor," he tweeted. "Good to see progress."

But to Jordan, Russell stood alone.

"Bill Russell was a pioneer — while a player, while a champion, while the NBA's earliest Black head bus accompanied by every one one other accompanied by while an activist," the former Chicago Bulls celestial body accompanied by every one one other accompanied by contemporaneous Charlotte Hornets majority owner said. "He paved the way accompanied by every one one other accompanied by place an example for every one one Black player who came into the alliance following him, including me. The world has lost a legend."

Russell's family said arrangements for the memorial labour will exist announced inside the coming days.

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Bill Russell, NBA celestial body accompanied by every one one other accompanied by secular rights pioneer, dies at 88

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