Sixers Coach Doc Rivers Reveals Final Message From Bill Russell

Bill Russell championship rings

Getty Bill Russell has more championship rings than fingers to put them on.

The tributes and memorials for NBA legend Bill Russell have been pouring in since his death on Sunday. The Hall of Famer was arguably the greatest center to ever do it, a man called “the single most devastating force in the history of the game.”

Philadephia 76ers fans were stuck in awe watching Russell win multiple titles and build up the Boston Celtics dynasty. He retired with 11 championships, including eight in a row in Beantown. Current Sixers coach Doc Rivers got to know Russell quite well when he was leading the Celtics from 2005-2013.

On Monday, Rivers shared his best memories of Russell during a chat with ESPN’s Malika Andrews. He shared the best piece of advice “Mr. 11 Rings” gave him, something Rivers can apply to his 2022-23 Sixers squad. Here’s what he said:

I don’t know if this is a sad or a joyous occasion as we remember Bill Russell. I remember as a kid, and we would argue who was the best player, my dad would always say if you don’t start with Bill Russell we’re not having a conversation, and he would never change from that. And he would always say, ‘When it matters, winning is the only thing that matters.’ And you know I would say this about Bill, just being around him especially when I was coaching in Boston, he never talked about himself. He always talked about team.

He always talked about bringing others together and he said something to me once — and he said it publicly, but for me as well — if you can only be great and no one else on your team can be great, then you’re not a winner. But if you can be great and leave room for each teammate to express themselves and be great, then you’re going to win a lot of games and I think that encapsulates what Bill Russell was all about.

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Sixers Players Remember Russell’s Legacy

Russell’s greatness transcended the game of basketball, on and off the court. He was a pioneer for civil rights and social justice while racking up championship after championship. Needless to say, James Harden and his Sixers teammates jumped on Twitter to show respect.

Tyrese Maxey re-tweeted Barack Obama’s message about losing a “giant.” Georges Niang thanked Russell for “being a pioneer and leader for change.”

And the Sixers released an official statement saying: “Simply put, Bill Russell was larger than life. An 11-time NBA champion, Russell is the winningest athlete in American sports history. His impact, however, transcends the scope of athletics. Russell’s illustrious on-court career coincided with our country’s Civil Rights Movement in the 50s and 60s and, though sacrifice and leadership, he used his platform to fight discrimination and inequality.”

Sixers Launch Summer Hoops Tour

The Jr. 76ers Summer Hoops Tour will begin on Tuesday, August 2, and end on Thursday, August 25. The Sixers are hosting eight development clinics across the cities of Philadelphia and Camden that will service more than 300 children, according to a press release. It will “allow children ages 6-14 to further their basketball skills and compete in friendly contests, including games and hot shot competitions.” Click here for full details on locations and dates for the camps.

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