NBA and Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, who was the cornerstone of 11 NBA titles for the Cs, died at 88 years old. Russell died “peacefully” with his wife, Jeannine, at his side, a statement posted on social media said.
Russell was a legendary player, coach and ambassador for the NBA through the years. Over a 15-year period, beginning with his junior year at the University of San Francisco, Russell had the most remarkable career of any player in the history of team sports.
An announcement… pic.twitter.com/KMJ7pG4R5Z
— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) July 31, 2022
A two-time All-American, he won two straight NCAA championships and led the team to 55 consecutive wins. In addition, he led Team USA to a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics. Russell then proceeded to win 11 NBA titles in 12 years.
“I cherished my friendship with Bill and was thrilled when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I often called him basketball’s Babe Ruth for how he transcended time. Bill was the ultimate winner and consummate teammate, and his influence on the NBA will be felt forever,” Adam Silver said.
A five-time MVP and 12-time All-Star, Russell was an uncanny shot blocker who revolutionized NBA defensive strategies. He finished with 21,620 career rebounds – an average of 22.5 per game – and led the league in rebounding four times.
He also averaged 15.1 points and 4.3 assists per game over his career. He was the first black person to lead a team from the bench as a head coach in any sport in the United States.
He was also awarded the Medal of Freedom by former President Barack Obama in 2011, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In 1974, Russell was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
In 1980, he was voted Greatest Player in the History of the NBA by the Professional Basketball Writers Association of America. He was part of the 75th Anniversary Team announced by the NBA in October 2021.