Bill Russell remembered as ‘greatest winner’ in basketball, champion for civil rights


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Bill Russell’s death led to a tremendous outpouring of condolences from the NBA world on Sunday.

Russell’s family announced the legendary NBA center died at 88. He passed away peacefully with his wife by his side, a statement read. He played his entire career with the Boston Celtics and coached for them as well. He was also the head coach of the Seattle SuperSonics and Sacramento Kings.

During his illustrious career, Russell was a 12-time All-star, 11-time NBA champion, five-time MVP and an 11-time All-NBA selection.

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A member of the Boston Celtics 1966 championship team, Bill Russell is honored at halftime of the game between the Celtics and the Miami Heat at TD Garden, April 13, 2016, in Boston, Massachusetts.

A member of the Boston Celtics 1966 championship team, Bill Russell is honored at halftime of the game between the Celtics and the Miami Heat at TD Garden, April 13, 2016, in Boston, Massachusetts.
(Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Russell was a leader in the civil rights movement as well, launching a boycott in 1961 when he and two of his Black teammates were refused service at a Kentucky restaurant; and supporting Muhammad Ali in his decision to avoid the draft for the Vietnam War.

His legacy on and off the basketball court was remembered by those in the NBA world. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Magic Johnson were among those who led tributes.

Russell was the No. 2 overall pick of the St. Louis Hawks in the 1956 draft. He was picked behind Si Green, who was chosen by the Rochester Royals, and in front of Jim Paxson Sr., who was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers. Russell would go on to score more points than both players combined.

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Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics is shown in 1968.

Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics is shown in 1968.
(AP Photo)

At San Francisco, Russell helped the Dons win two consecutive NCAA titles in 1955 and 1956. He also led Team USA to a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics.

Russell was traded to the Hawks on draft day for Cliff Hagan and Ed Macauley. He would continue his dominance in the pros, leading Boston to 11 championships, including a run of eight straight. He led the NBA in rebounds five times and is only one of two players to record at least 50 rebounds in a game.

Bill Russell smiles following the announcement that he had been named coach of the Boston Celtics on April 18, 1966.

Bill Russell smiles following the announcement that he had been named coach of the Boston Celtics on April 18, 1966.
(AP Photo, File)

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Russell was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame twice — once as a player and another time as a coach. His No. 6 is retired by the Celtics, and he is the namesake for the NBA Finals MVP award.



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