REACTIONS from the basketball world and beyond on the death of NBA great and 11-time champion Bill Russell:
“Bill Russell was the greatest champion in all of team sports. The countless accolades that he earned for his storied career with the Boston Celtics—including a record 11 championships and five MVP awards—only begin to tell the story of Bill’s immense impact on our league and broader society.” — National Basketball Association (NBA) Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.
“Today, we lost a giant. As tall as Bill Russell stood, his legacy rises far higher — both as a player and as a person.” — President Barack Obama said on Twitter.
“The promise of America is that we are all created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives. We’ve never fully lived up to that promise, but Bill Russell made sure we never walked away from it.
“By August 1963, he had won six of what would be 11 NBA championships in his 13 years in the league with the Boston Celtics, a defining career that would include five regular season Most Valuable Player awards, an Olympic gold medal, and serving as the first Black coach of any major sports league in America.
“But on the historic day of August 28, 1963, there he was at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as a towering champion for freedom, equality, and justice as Dr. King delivered a dream for the Nation.
“That was Bill Russell. From a childhood in segregated Louisiana to a career playing on the biggest stages in sports at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Bill faced the hostility and hate of racism embedded in every part of American life. Yet, he never gave up. Throughout his life, he forced us to confront hard truths. And on this day, there are generations of Americans who are reflecting on what he meant to them as someone who played for the essential truth that every person is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.
“Bill Russell is one of the greatest athletes in our history—an all-time champion of champions, and a good man and great American who did everything he could to deliver the promise of America for all Americans.” — President Joe Biden.
Image credits: AP