BOSTON CELTICS TEAM STATEMENT ON THE PASSING OF BILL RUSSELL
To be the greatest champion in your sport, to revolutionize the way the game is played, and to be a societal leader all at once seems unthinkable, but that is who Bill Russell was.
Bill was a champion unlike any other in the history of team sports – an 11-time NBA champion, including winning eight consecutive titles, a five-time MVP, an Olympic Gold Medalist and the NBA’s first Black head coach.
Bill Russell‘s DNA is woven through every element of the Celtics organization, from the relentless pursuit of excellence, to the celebration of team rewards over individual glory, to a commitment to social justice and civil rights off the court.
Our thoughts are with his family as we mourn his passing and celebrate his enormous legacy in basketball, Boston, and beyond.
STATEMENT FROM WYC GROUSBECK, STEVE PAGLIUCA AND THE BOSTON CELTICS OWNERSHIP GROUP
Bill embodied character and commitment and he was truly one of the finest people to ever live. He will be remembered forever and deservedly so.
STATEMENT FROM NBA COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER
“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.
“Bill stood for something much bigger than sports: the values of equality, respect and inclusion that he stamped into the DNA of our league. At the height of his athletic career, Bill advocated vigorously for civil rights and social justice, a legacy he passed down to generations of NBA players who followed in his footsteps. Through the taunts, threats and unthinkable adversity, Bill rose above it all and remained true to his belief that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity.
“For nearly 35 years since Bill completed his trailblazing career as the league’s first Black head coach, we were fortunate to see him at every major NBA event, including the NBA Finals, where he presented the Bill Russell Trophy to the Finals MVP.
“I cherished my friendship with Bill and was thrilled when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I often called him basketball’s Babe Ruth for how he transcended time. Bill was the ultimate winner and consummate teammate, and his influence on the NBA will be felt forever. We send our deepest condolences to his wife, Jeannine, his family and his many friends.”
Per ESPN.com, “a five-time MVP and 12-time All-Star, Russell was an uncanny shot blocker who revolutionized NBA defensive concepts. He finished with 21,620 career rebounds — an average of 22.5 per game — and led the league in rebounding four times. He had 51 rebounds in one game and 49 in two others and posted 12 straight seasons with 1,000 or more rebounds. Russell also averaged 15.1 points and 4.3 assists per game over his career.”