Bill Russell, a Boston Celtics legend who won 11 championships during his playing career, passed away peacefully Sunday at age 88. Word of Russell’s passing came via a statement from his official Twitter account, and courtesy of his family.
One of the most iconic players in NBA history, Russell was the star of a Celtic dynasty that won the championship in all but two of his 13 seasons with the club. Russell’s 11 championships are tied with Canadiens legend Henri Richard for the most by any single player in North American professional sports history.
The final two championships of Russell’s career came with the 6-foot-10 center serving as a player-coach for the club, and as the replacement for the legendary Red Auerbach, with Russell becoming the first Black coach in NBA history in the process.
In addition to the titles, Russell dominated the NBA to the tune of five Most Valuable Player wins, 12 All-Star selections, and 11 selections to an All-NBA team. Russell was also named to the 25th, 35th, 50th, and 75th anniversary NBA teams.
Russell also ranks as the C’s all-time franchise leader in total rebounds, rebounds per game, and minutes per game.
Off the court, Russell was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
“Bill Russell was the greatest champion in all of team sports,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement following Russell’s passing. “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 stood for something much bigger than sports: the values of equality, respect and inclusion that he stamped into the DNA of our league. At the height of his athletic career, Bill advocated vigorously for civil rights and social justice, a legacy he passed down to generations of NBA players who followed in his footsteps. 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.”
Russell’s legacy will live on through his MENTOR charity, as well as the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.