It’s been a sad day for the NBA following the announcement of Bill Russell‘s passing. The Boston Celtics legend impacted a lot both on and off the basketball court, leaving a strong impression on those who came after him. That included NBA and Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan.
Jordan, who currently serves as chairman of the Charlotte Hornets, released a statement via the Hornets’ official Twitter account in light of Russell’s passing.
“Bill Russell was a pioneer – as a player, as a champion, as the NBA’s first black head coach and as an activist. He paved the way and set an example for every black player who came into the league after him, including me. The world had lost a legend. My condolences to his family and may he rest in peace.”
Jordan and Russell were named on the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary team, and both are commonly recognized as two of the greatest players to ever play in the league.
Jordan was not the only NBA legend to praise Russell following his passing.
Former Celtics Rivals Paid Tribute to Russell
They may have played for teams the Celtics had a personal rivalry with during their playing days, but that didn’t stop these NBA Hall of Famers from expressing their appreciation for all that Russell did both on and off the basketball court.
Magic Johnson, who played for the Los Angeles Lakers during what arguably was the height of their rivalry with the Celtics, reflected on how Russell was his idol growing up and praised him for paving the way for guys like Johnson after his retirement.
Johnson also praised Russell for being one of the first athletes to fight for civil rights, which was why Johnson admired him as much as he did.
Those were among the several tweets that Johnson released following Russell’s passing. He wasn’t the only former Celtics rival to praise Russell following his passing.
Isiah Thomas, who duked it out with the Celtics when he played for the Detroit Pistons back in the 1980s, also paid tribute to Russell.
Johnson also wasn’t the only former Laker legend to sing Russell’s praises. Pau Gasol called Russell one of the most dominant players in NBA history while making it clear how honored he was to meet Russell.
It’s clear that Russell had an impact on NBA legends that followed him even if he played for their team’s archrival during their playing days.
Russell’s passing impacted NBA stars still currently in the league too.
NBA Stars Paid Their Respect to Russell
Besides the stars currently playing for the Celtics, various NBA Stars across the league vocalized their appreciation for what Russell did for the league following his passing.
Most of them praised Russell as a legend, like James Harden, Trae Young, and Rudy Gobert.
Others took more time to praise Russell for his impact on the league. Carmelo Anthony praised Russell for revolutionizing the game while inspiring him in so many ways.
Even 50 years after he had retired from the NBA, it’s clear as day that NBA stars remember what Russell meant both in and outside of the league.