The NBA has lost one of the best to ever play the game.
According to an announcement by his family over social media, Bill Russell passed away peacefully on Sunday. He was 88 years old.
Russell played a critical role in building the foundation for the successful league we see today. He was one of the most dominant players in basketball history, winning back-to-back NCAA championships with San Francisco in the mid-50s before taking the NBA by storm during his 13-year-long career.
Russell won 11 championships during his time at the helm of the Boston Celtics and made 12-straight All-Star appearances. He currently sits second behind only Wilt Chamberlain in all-time rebounds (21,620).
After his legendary NBA career, Russell continued to make history by becoming the first black head coach in NBA history. His two final championships in Boston came as he led John Havlicek and Co. to victories in 1968 and 1969.
Arguably greater than his accomplishments on the court, however, was what he stood for off it.
“Bill stood for something much bigger than sports: the values of equality, respect, and inclusion that he stamped into the NBA of our league,” Silve wrote in a statemet. “At the height of his athletic career, Bill advocated vigorously for civil right 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.”
You can read Silver’s full statement below:
Legends never die, and all the good Russell has done for professional sports will continue to live on in the DNA of the NBA. Every year when The Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award is handed out, his career will be remembered in the way it should be: A success.
Rest in Peace, Bill.