(NEXSTAR) – Invoice Russell, one of many best NBA gamers in historical past, has died on the age of 88, his household introduced Sunday.
Russell, referred to as “probably the most prolific winner in American sports activities historical past” by his household, was an 11-time NBA champion, captain of a gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic staff and the primary black coach on any staff skilled sportsman of North America. .
Born on February 12, 1934, in Monroe, Louisiana, Russell and his household later moved to California. He attended highschool in Oakland and led the College of San Francisco to NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956. He additionally gained a gold medal within the 1956 Olympics.
Russell was drafted within the first spherical of the 1956 NBA draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. Louise Hawks, however quickly moved to the Boston Celtics. He spent 13 years in Boston – 10 as a participant and three as a coach. In that point, the staff gained 11 championships.
He was the primary black coach in NBA historical past when he grew to become a player-coach in 1966. He retired after the 1969 NBA Finals, however later spent 4 years because the coach and basic supervisor of the Seattle SuperSonics and a half season as coach for the Sacramento Kings.
The Corridor of Famer was named Most Precious Participant 5 occasions and was a 12-time All-Star. In 1980, Russell was voted the best participant in NBA historical past by the basketball writers. He stays the game’s most prolific scorer and an archetype of selflessness, who gained with protection and rebounding, leaving the scoring to others. Typically, that meant Wilt Chamberlain, the one participant of the period who was a worthy rival to Russell.
Jersey no. Russell’s 6 was retired by the Celtics in 1972. He earned spots on the NBA’s All-Time twenty fifth Anniversary Crew in 1970 and the thirty fifth Anniversary Crew in 1980. In 1996, he was named one of many 50 NBA’s best. In 2009, the NBA Finals MVP trophy was named in his honor.
In 2013, a statue was unveiled in Boston Metropolis Corridor Plaza of Russell surrounded by granite blocks with quotes on management and character. Russell was inducted into the Basketball Corridor of Fame in 1975, however didn’t attend the ceremony, saying he shouldn’t be the primary African-American inducted. (Chuck Cooper, the NBA’s first black participant, was his selection.)
In 2019, Russell accepted his Corridor of Fame ring at a non-public gathering. “I felt that others earlier than me ought to have had that honor,” he tweeted. “Good to see progress.”
“However for all of the successful, Invoice’s understanding of conflict is what illuminated his life,” Russell’s household stated in an announcement. “From boycotting a 1961 exhibition sport to [unmasking] long-tolerated discrimination, in working Mississippi’s first built-in basketball camp because the homicide of Medgar Evans, in many years of activism lastly acknowledged by receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010, Invoice referred to as injustice with an apology. that he aimed to disrupt the established order and by a strong instance that, although by no means modest in goal, will eternally encourage teamwork, selflessness, and considerate change.”
Russell was on the March on Washington in 1963 when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, and he supported Muhammad Ali when the boxer was attacked for refusing induction into the navy draft.
In 2011, President Barack Obama awarded Russell the Medal of Freedom.
“Invoice Russell, the person, is somebody who stood up for the rights and dignity of all individuals,” Obama stated on the ceremony. “When a restaurant refused to serve the Black Celtics, he refused to play within the scheduled sport. He put up with insults and vandalism, however continued to give attention to making the teammates he cherished higher gamers and made doable the success of many who would comply with him.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated in an announcement Sunday that Russell was “the best champion in all of staff sports activities.”
“Invoice stood for one thing a lot greater than sports activities: the values of equality, respect and inclusion that he stamped into the DNA of our league. On the peak of his athletic profession, Invoice strongly advocated for civil rights and social justice, a legacy he handed on to generations of NBA gamers who adopted in his footsteps,” Silver stated. “By means of the taunts, threats and misfortunes of unimaginable, Invoice rose above all of it and stayed true to his perception that everybody deserves to be handled with dignity.
Russell “handed away peacefully” together with his spouse, Jeannine, by his aspect on Sunday. The reason for his demise just isn’t but recognized.
His household stated preparations for Russell’s memorial service will likely be introduced within the coming days.
The Related Press contributed to this report.
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