NBA Icon and Boston Celtics Legend, Bill Russell has passed away.
The Hall of Famer anchored a Boston Celtics dynasty that won 11 championships in 13 years — the last two as the first Black head coach in any major U.S. sport and marched for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr. He was 88.
His family posted the news on social media, saying Russell died with his wife, Jeannine, by his side. The statement did not give the cause of death.
“Bill’s wife, Jeannine, and his many friends and family thank you for keeping Bill in your prayers. Perhaps you’ll relive one or two of the golden moments he gave us, or recall his trademark laugh as he delighted in explaining the real story behind how those moments unfolded,” the family statement said. “And we hope each of us can find a new way to act or speak up with Bill’s uncompromising, dignified and always constructive commitment to principle. That would be one last, and lasting, win for our beloved #6.”
An announcement… pic.twitter.com/KMJ7pG4R5Z— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) July 31, 2022
Glorious Career and Life Worth Celebrating
Over a 15-year period, beginning with his junior year at the University of San Francisco, Russell had the most remarkable career of any player in the history of team sports. At USF, he was a two-time All-American, won two straight NCAA championships and led the team to 55 consecutive wins. He also won a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics.
During his 13 years in Boston, he carried the Celtics to the NBA Finals 12 times, winning the championship 11 times.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver called Russell “the greatest champion in all of team sports” in a statement Sunday.
“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,” Silver said.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's statement regarding the passing of Bill Russell. pic.twitter.com/3BcZDnKjxK— NBA (@NBA) July 31, 2022
The Greatest Before Jordan Emerged
A five-time MVP and 12-time All-Star, Russell was an uncanny shot blocker who revolutionized NBA defensive concepts. He finished with 21,620 career rebounds — an average of 22.5 per game — and led the league in rebounding four times. He had 51 rebounds in one game and 49 in two others and posted 12 straight seasons with 1,000 or more rebounds. Russell also averaged 15.1 points and 4.3 assists per game over his career.
Until Michael Jordan’s exploits in the 1990s, Russell was considered by many as the greatest player in NBA history.
My his memories be a blessing.
Bill Russell won a record 11 NBA championships and earned five MVP awards. He is one of only four players to be named to all four NBA anniversary teams (25th, 35th, 50th and 75th).— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) July 31, 2022
More on his extraordinary career ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/YWShOei3Mo