NBA great Bill Russell dies at 88

NBA great Bill Russell. (G3 Box News Photo/Matt York, File)

NBA great Bill Russell dies at 88

Abigail Adcox
Daniel Chaitin

July 31, 01:21 PM July 31, 06:53 PM

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Bill Russell, one of basketball’s greatest legends, who won an unprecedented 11 NBA titles during his career, died “peacefully” Sunday with his wife Jeannine by his side. He was 88 years old.

Arrangements for Russell’s memorial service will be announced at a later date, according to the post from his Twitter account.


“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 Evans’ assassination, to decades of activism ultimately recognized by his receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010, 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.

The five-time MVP and 12-time All-Star spent his 13-year professional career with the Boston Celtics, bringing them to the NBA Finals 12 times and winning 11 championships. He also won a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics.

Russell later became the league’s first black coach, taking command of the Celtics in 1966. Above all, he was a staunch advocate for civil rights and social justice.

Russell was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama in 2010, for his athletic accomplishments and his advocacy work.

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver hailed Russell as the “greatest champion in all team sports.”

“Bill stood for something much bigger than sports: the values of equality, respect and inclusion that he stamped into the DNA of our league,” Silver said in a statement. “Through the taunts, threats and unthinkable adversity, Bill rose above it all and remained true to his belief that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity.”

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