NBA Hall-of-Famer Bill Russell dead at 88
NBA Hall-of-Famer Bill Russell died Sunday at the age of 88, with his wife, Jeannine, at his side, his family said in a statement posted on social media. No cause of death was immediately available; Russell, who had been living in the Seattle area, was not well enough to present the NBA Finals MVP trophy in June due to a long illness.
The most prolific winner in NBA history, Russell marched with Martin Luther King Jr., stood with Muhammad Ali and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. The centerpiece of the Boston Celtics dynasty that won 11 championships in 13 years, Russell earned his last two NBA titles as a player-coach _ the first Black coach in any major U.S. sport.
A Hall of Famer, five-time Most Valuable Player and 12-time All-Star, Russell in 1980 was voted the greatest player in the NBA history by basketball writers. He remains the sport's most decorated champion _ he also won two college titles and an Olympic gold medal _ and an archetype of selflessness who won with defense and rebounding while others racked up gaudy scoring totals.
Often, that meant Wilt Chamberlain, the only worthy rival of Russell's era and his prime competition for rebounds, MVP trophies and barroom arguments about who was better. Chamberlain, who died in 1999 at 63, had twice as many points, four MVP trophies of his own and is the only person in league history to grab more rebounds than Russell _ 23,924 to 21,620
But Russell dominated in the only stat he cared about: 11 championships to two.