NBA and Celtics Legend Passes Away at 88

Bill Russell

Getty Bill Russell attends the 2018 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony.

On July 31, 2022, it was announced via his personal Twitter account that NBA and Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell had passed away at 88 years old. Russell was commonly hailed as one of the greatest and arguably the winningest athletes to ever play in professional sports.

In the 13 years Russell played in the NBA from 1956 to 1969, the Celtics won 11 championships. His last two years in the league, Russell participated as a player-coach, making him the first African American head coach in NBA history. Russell won MVP five times – 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963, and 1965 – and made the all-star game every year he played, minus his rookie year. Russell participated in 10 Game 7’s in his playoff career and never lost once.

Russell’s no. 6 was retired by the Celtics in 1972 and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975 as a player. In 2009, the NBA named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award after Russell himself. Russell had been named on every single NBA anniversary team – 25th, 35th, 50th, and 75th – and in 2021, Russell had been inducted into the Hall of Fame as a coach.

Russell is not only considered one of the greatest basketball players and athletes of all time but is also considered a pioneer for African American athletes.

Celtics Players Paid Their Respects to Russell

Following the announcement of Russell’s death, several Celtics players paid tribute to the basketball legend via Twitter.

Jayson Tatum thanked Russell for the impact he had both on and off the court while acknowledging him as a legend.

Jaylen Brown also paid his respects to Russell by sharing a picture of the two of them. Brown called it a sad day but also called it a great day to celebrate Russell’s legacy.

That was one of the several tweets Brown shared vocalizing his appreciation for Russell for all he had done.

Brown also tweeted an image of Russell alongside various storied African-American athletes, including Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (back when he was known as Lew Alcindor), at a Cleveland summit in 1967.

At this summit, Russell, alongside the other athletes, was there to support Ali after the famous boxer refused to serve in the Vietnam War. Events like these demonstrated the kind of impact Russell made off the basketball court, which Brown is more than aware of.

Grant Williams also paid his respect to Bill Russell, letting the Celtics legend know that he wouldn’t be where he is today had it not been for Russell paving the way for him first while also letting him know that Russell’s presence impacted the entire world.

Current Celtics players weren’t the only ones to pay tribute to Russell.

Former Celtics Legends Pay Tribute to Russell

Following the announcement of Russell’s death, Paul Pierce paid his respect to Russell on his Twitter account. Pierce praised Russell for his impact as well as his wisdom and his sense of humor.

Pierce also shared a picture of him and Russell at a table together while talking about how it felt like a campfire listening to his stories.

Ray Allen also paid his respects to Russell via his Instagram page. Allen praised Russell for all that he had done both on and off the basketball court. Allen also noted that Russell actually changed the world while adding that he was the reason Allen wanted to be a Celtic.

Antoine Walker also paid tribute to Russell, calling him an absolute legend.

These are only a few of the many tributes current and former NBA players have paid to Russell following the announcement of his tragic death.

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