Bill Russell, legend of the Celtics and NBA, dies

The legendary former center of the Boston Celtics, bill russellpassed away on Sunday at the age of 88, his family announced through social networks.

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.

The Celtics won 11 titles in a 13-year span, 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 the most all time.

“Despite all 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 15-year period, beginning with his junior year at the University of San Francisco, Russell had the most remarkable career of any player in team sports history. At USF, he was a two-time All-American, winning two straight NCAA championships and leading the team to 55 straight wins. Likewise, he 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.

Russell, a five-time MVP and 12-time All-Star, was an amazing shot-blocker who revolutionized defensive concepts in the NBA. He finished with 21,620 rebounds in his career, 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 straight seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds. Russell also averaged 15.1 points and 4.3 assists per game over his career.

Until the advent of Michael Jordan in the 1990s, Russell was considered by many to be the greatest player in NBA history.

Russell is one of only eight players to win 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 a ‘clumsy’ center on the McClymonds team, but his size 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’d never seen blocked shots before. The first time I did that in a game, my coach called a timeout 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 55-game winning streak and national titles in 1955 and 1956. (Jones missed four games of the 1956 tournament because his eligibility had expired.) Russell was named the NCAA Tournament MVP in 1955.

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Bill Russell, legend of the Celtics and NBA, dies