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.”
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.”
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.
Bill Russell was my idol. I looked up to him on the court and off. His success on the court was undeniable; he was dominate and great, winning 11 NBA championships. Off the court, Bill Russell paved the way for guys like me. pic.twitter.com/ZMIrEx8Tne
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) July 31, 2022
Today, we lost a giant.
As tall as Bill Russell stood, his legacy rises far higher—both as a player and as a person.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 31, 2022
Bill Russell was a legendary player and coach, and an even better person. He approached everything he did with determination, principle, and wisdom. I will always be grateful for the chance to call him my friend. pic.twitter.com/CmMVzLJUJJ
— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) July 31, 2022
To be the greatest champion in your sport, to revolutionize the way the game is played, and to be a societal leader all at once seems unthinkable, but that is who Bill Russell was. (1/4) pic.twitter.com/K0Ue0hKiLs
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) July 31, 2022
Thank you for everything! R.I.P Legend 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/tn2iGsArav
— Jayson Tatum (@jaytatum0) July 31, 2022
— Jaylen Brown (@FCHWPO) July 31, 2022
Thanku for being a trailblazer , pioneer Thanku for setting the bar , for ur kind words of wisdom, Thanku for that great laugh u had . I can go on all day about what u meant to me . Today is a sad day for the NBA family u will be forever missed #6
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) July 31, 2022
Bill Russell AND Nichelle Nichols?!?! Man, what an awful day.
— Robert A George (@RobGeorge) July 31, 2022
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