‘Giant’, ‘Pioneer’, ‘Legend’… Tributes to Bill Russell, legendary NBA champion and civil rights activist multiply

was for his family “Most Prolific Winner in American Sports History” For former President Barack Obama “giant” : Bill Russell, 11-time Celtics NBA champion and civil rights defender, died on Sunday, July 31.

The National Basketball Association and American sports more broadly have lost one of their legends. His record is impressive and will never equal: In thirteen NBA seasons, all under the Boston Celtics green jersey, Russell won eleven NBA titles, a record that still stands, including eight in a row from 1959 to 1966. He also He was the first black American to be appointed to head a franchise for an American professional sport and the first to be crowned in his second year (1967) at the helm of the Celtics.

It’s also outside the basketball courts that Russell became a figure in American society, which in 2011 earned him, from the hands of Barack Obama, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.

Today we lost a giant.in response to the announcement of the death of the former US President. “On the court, he was the greatest champion in basketball history. Off the court, he was a civil rights pioneer, and he walked with Dr. (Martin Luther) King standing next to Muhammad Ali. For decades, Bell has suffered from insults and harassment, but this has never stopped him from defending his righteousness. I learned a lot from his way of playing, his way of training and his way of living his life.”Barack Obama added.

“America’s promise that we are all created equal and deserve to be treated the same throughout our lives. We have never fully kept that promise, but Bill Russell made sure we never gave up.”also received incumbent President Joe Biden, in a press release.

Born in 1934 in Louisiana, in the deep south still living under a segregationist system, Russell, before moving with his family to California in the 1940s, used his notoriety to advance the civil rights cause.

In 1963, he participated in the Martin Luther King Jr. rally in Washington. “From his childhood in secluded Louisiana to his career in the biggest gymnasiums, during the height of the civil rights movement, Bill faced the racial animosity and hatred rooted in every aspect of American life. Yet he never gave up. Throughout his life, he has forced us to confront the facts. difficult.”Joe Biden confirmed.

The NBA praised “The greatest champion in any team sport”. “Bill championed something far greater than sport: the values ​​of equality, respect and inclusion that we engraved in the DNA of our nation’s league.”NBA president Adam Silver said in a statement.

He was also praised by current Celtics players. “It changed not only the league but the world”Grant Williams tweeted, while Jaylen Brown posted a message thanking Bill Russell “To lead the way and inspire a lot of people”.

“Bill Russell was my idol”And the For his part, former Los Angeles Lakers leader Magic Johnson responded. “He was one of the first athletes to fight on the front lines for social justice, equity, equality and civil rights.” Superstar Michael Jordan “pioneer”World Health Organization “They paved the way and set an example for all the black players who entered the league after him, including me.”. “The world lost a legend with the death of Bill Russell. His impact on basketball and society will never be forgotten.”Former New York Knicks Center Patrick Ewing said.

While his funeral has not yet been set, his family hopes that “Each of us finds ways to speak and act in a Bell manner, without compromise, always with dignity and a constructive approach.”

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