Bill Russell, the centerpiece of the Boston Celtics dynasty that won eight consecutive championships and 11 overall, passed away on Sunday. The NBA Great was 88 years old.
Russell passed away “peacefully” with his wife Jeannine by his side, according to a social media post. According to the statement, provisions for his funeral ceremony will be announced shortly.
According to ESPN, the statement did not specify the cause of death, but Russell was too ill in June to present the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy.
“But for all the winning, Bill’s understanding of the struggle is what illuminated his life. From boycotting a 1961 exhibition game to unmask too-long-tolerated discrimination, to leading Mississippi’s first integrated basketball camp in the combustible wake of Medgar [Evers’] assassination, to decades of activism ultimately recognized by his receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom … Bill called out injustice with an unforgiving candor that he intended would disrupt the status quo, and with a powerful example that, though never his humble intention, will forever inspire teamwork, selflessness and thoughtful change,” the statement read.
Beginning in his junior year at the University of San Francisco, Russell had the most remarkable career in the history of team sports over a 15-year span. At USF, he was a two-time All-American, won two consecutive NCAA titles, and led the team to 55 straight victories. And he won an Olympic gold medal in 1956.
During his 13 years in Boston, he led the Celtics to the NBA Finals 12 times and won the championship 11 times, including the last two as the NBA’s first Black coach.
Russell, a five-time MVP and 12-time All-Star, was a shot-blocking wizard who radically transformed NBA defensive concepts. He finished his career with 21,620 rebounds, an average of 22.5 per game, and four times led the league in rebounding.
He had 51 rebounds in one game, 49 in two others, and 12 consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 rebounds. In his career, Russell averaged 15.1 points and 4.3 assists per game.
The Great Bill Russell 1934-2022— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) July 31, 2022
Your legacy will forever live on! pic.twitter.com/c4PBV6qD76