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Bill Russell, Basketball Legend, Dies at 88

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Sad news.

Bill Russell, one of basketball’s legendary players, has died at age 88. The announcement was posted on his verified Twitter account.

“It is with a very heavy heart we would like to pass along to all of Bill’s friends, fans, & followers,” the statement reads. “Bill Russell, the most prolific winner in American sports history, passed away peacefully today at age 88, with his wife, Jeannine, by his side. Arrangements for his memorial service will be announced soon.

“Bill’s two state championships in high school offered a glimmer of the incomparable run of pure team accomplishment to come: twice an NCAA champion; captain of a gold-medal-winning US Olympic team; 11 times an NBA champion; and at the helm for two NBA championships as the first black head coach of any North American professional sports team.

Russell’s life was long โ€” at times profound, and at times messy.

He had a falling out with longtime friend and fierce competitor Wilt Chamberlain โ€” Russell didn’t like the word rival to describe their on-court relationship. Later in life they reconciled. Russell also reconciled his feelings, somewhat, about the city of Boston.

Through it all, there was one constant for Russell: laughter.

A laugh for the ages. As recognizable a part of Bill Russell as the image of him in his number six Celtics jersey, rising above the court to grab a rebound or swat an opponent’s shot. Red Auerbach was quoted as saying one of the only things that could make him stop coaching was Bill Russell’s laugh.

But the high-pitch cackle was beloved by many more. And it bore the mark of another Katie Russell lesson. His mother told him never hold back. On anything.

Russell became the first Black player to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975, and in 1980 he was voted Greatest Player in the History of the NBA by the Professional Basketball Writers Association of America. He was part of the 75th Anniversary Team announced by the NBA in October 2021.

In 2013, Boston honored Russell with a statue at City Hall Plaza.

Rest in peace, Bill.

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