Basketball world in mourning after death of Bill Russell at 88

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·Sports Reporter
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Bill Russell, pictured here at the 2010 Medal of Freedom presentation ceremony at the White House.
Bill Russell listens during the 2010 Medal of Freedom presentation ceremony at the White House. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The NBA world is in mourning following the news Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell died on Sunday, aged 88.

Russell’s death was announced on his Twitter account, with a statement reading the Hall of Famer had “passed away peacefully today at age 88, with his wife, Jeannine, by his side.”

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Russell won 11 NBA Championships as a player with the Celtics, including eight-straight between 1959 and 1966.

He was named NBA MVP on five occasions and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975.

In a statement, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver praised Russell for the legacy he left both on and off the court.

“Bill Russell was the greatest champion in all of team sports,” Silver said.

“The countless accolades that he earned for his storied career with the Boston Celtics – including a record 11 championships and five MVP awards – only begin to tell the story of Bill’s immense impact on our league and broader society.

“Bill was the ultimate winner and consummate teammate, and his influence on the NBA will be felt forever.”

Bill Russell, pictured here in action for the Boston Celtics against the New York Knicks in 1967.
Bill Russell in action for the Boston Celtics against the New York Knicks in 1967. (Photo by Ken Regan/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Celtics organisation tweeted a tribute for Russell, while current and former Boston stars such as Jason Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Paul Pierce also showed their appreciation for the impact Russell had on their own careers.

Fellow Hall of Famer Michael Jordan described Russell as a ‘pioneer’, while Magic Johnson revealed the basketball icon was his ‘idol’.

“Bill Russell was a pioneer - as a player, as a champion, as the NBA’s first black head coach and as an activist,” Jordan said.

“He paved the way and set an example for every black player who came into the league after him, including me. The world has lost a legend. My condolences to his family and may he rest in peace.”

Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and Larry Bird, pictured here during the NBA All-Star weekend in 1997.
Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and Larry Bird during the NBA All-Star weekend in 1997. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

World in mourning after death of Bill Russell

Russell’s death also resonated with those outside basketball circles, with former US Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton celebrating the life of the man who dedicated much of his post basketball existence to fighting against racial inequality.

“As tall as Bill Russell stood, his legacy rises far higher - both as a player and as a person,” Obama tweeted.

In addition to his glittering NBA career, in which he averaged 15.1 points per game, 22.5 rebounds per game and 4.3 assists per game, Russell also won two NCAA National Championships with the University of San Francisco, as well as a gold medal with Team USA at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

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