Legendary former Boston Celtics center Bill Russell died Sunday at the age of 88, his family announced on social media.
Russell, who died “peacefully” with his wife Jeannine by his side, is the player with the most championships in NBA history (11) and the most Finals appearances (12). Funeral details will be announced soon.
An announcement… pic.twitter.com/KMJ7pG4R5Z
— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) July 31, 2022
The Celtics have won 11 titles in 13 years, including eight in a row from 1959 to 1966 (the most in a row).
Boston’s 17 NBA titles are tied with the Lakers for most of all time.
“Despite all of his triumphs, Bill’s understanding of protest is what lit up his life. Decades of activism ultimately earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010.”
“Bill’s wife, Jeannine, and their many friends and family thank you for keeping Bill in your prayers,” the statement read.
Over a span of 15 years, beginning with his freshman year at the University of San Francisco, Russell had the most notable career of any player in team sports history. At USF, he was a two-time All-American, winning back-to-back NCAA championships and leading the team to 55 straight wins. He also won a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics.
The only year the Celtics lost, in 1958 to the St. Louis Hawks, the series was tied 2-2 when Russell was injured and hospitalized. The Celtics lost the next two games by a total of three points.
Five-time MVP and 12-time All-Star, Russell was an incredible blocker who revolutionized defensive concepts in the NBA. He finished with 21,620 career rebounds, averaging 22.5 per game, and led the league in rebounding four times. He had 51 rebounds in one game, 49 in two others, and 12 consecutive seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds. Russell has also averaged 15.1 points and 4.3 assists per game throughout his career.
Until the rise of Michael Jordan in the 1990s, Russell was considered by many to be the greatest player in NBA history.
Bill Russell has won a record 11 NBA championships and won five MVP awards. He is one of only four players to be named to all four NBA Anniversary Teams (25th, 35th, 50th and 75th).
Learn more about his extraordinary career ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/YWShOei3Mo
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) July 31, 2022
Russell is one of eight players to have won an NBA title, an NCAA title and an Olympic gold medal.
In 2017, the NBA presented him with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
William Felton Russell was born on February 12, 1934 in Monroe, Louisiana. His family moved to the Bay Area, where he attended McClymonds High School in Oakland. He was an “awkward” center for the McClymonds team, but his height earned him a scholarship to San Francisco, where he flourished.
“I was an innovator,” Russell told The New York Times in 2011. “I started blocking shots, even though I had never seen shots blocked before. The first time I did that in a game, my coach called a time out and said, ‘No. A good defensive player never leaves his feet.'”
Russell did it anyway, teaming with guard KC Jones to lead the Dons to a 55-game winning streak and national titles in 1955 and 1956. (Jones missed four games in the 1956 tournament because his eligibility had expired.) Russell was named NCAA Tournament MVP in 1955.
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