Bill Russell passes away at the age of 88

2022-07-31T19:33:50+00:00 2022-07-31T23:44:03+00:00.

Giannis Askounis

31/Jul/22 19:33

A very sad day for basketball fans, rest in peace Bill Russell

By Eurohoops Team/

Bill Russell has died, as announced via a post shared on his official Twitter account Sunday. An iconic figure of basketball, a pioneer in the NBA, an 11-time champ and the first African-American coach of the league left behind him a legacy that will not be forgotten.

The text of the tweet is the following:

“It is with a very heavy heart we would like to pass along to all of Bill’s friends, fans, and followers:

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.

Along the way, Bill earned a string of individual awards that stands unprecedented as it went unmentioned by him. In 2009, the award for the NBA Finals most valuable player was renamed after two-time Hall of Famer as the “Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award”.

But for all the winning, Bill’s understanding of the struggle is what illuminated his life. From boycotting a 1961 exhibition game to unmask the too-long-tolerated discrimination, to leading Mississippi’s first integrated basketball camp in the combustible wake of Medgar Evans’ assassination, to decades of activism ultimately recognized by his receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010, Bill called out injustice with an unforgiving candor that he intended would disrupt the status quo, and with a powerful example that, though never his humble intention, will forever inspire teamwork, selflessness and thoughtful change.

Bill’s wife, Jeannine, and his many friends and family thank you for keeping Bill in your prayers. Perhaps you’ll relive one or two of the golden moments he gave us, or recall his trademark laugh as he delighted in explaining the real story behind how those moments unfolded. And we hope each of us can find a new way to act or speak up with Bill’s uncompromising, dignified and always constructive commitment to principle. That would be one last, and lasting, win for our beloved #6.”

A statement for 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 last forever. We send our deepest condolences to his wife, Jeannine, his family and his many friends.”

The Boston Celtics 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.”

Charlotte Hornets chairman and legendary player Michael Jordan noted:

“Bill Russell was a pioneer – as a player, as a champion, as the NBA’s first Black head coach and as an activist. He paved the way and set an example for every Black player who came into the league after him, including me. The world has lost a legend. My condolences to his family and may he rest in peace.”

The Golden State Warriors based in San Francisco also released a statement:

“Bill Russell, who spent many of his formative years in the Bay Area, was a true giant in the game of basketball, and more importantly, in the game of life. His championship resume, which included multiple State titles at McClymonds High School in Oakland, two NCAA championships at the University of San Francisco and a record 11 titles with the Boston Celtics might never be duplicated and solidifies his position as one of the sports’ ultimate winners. But, while the accolades on the court were immense, it was his overall impact as a pioneer on multiple levels that will leave the greatest legacy from his iconic life and career.

From becoming the first Black head coach in NBA history to his never-ending advocacy for civil rights, equality and social justice. Mr. Russell’s reach stretch far and wide, and his tireless efforts in these spaces continued long after his playing career ended. Appropriately, the league’s annual NBA Finals MVP Award, which was named in his honor in 2009, signifies how valuable his contributions were to the game we love and the important groundwork that he laid for future generations.

On behalf of the Warriors, we offer our sincere condolences to his wife, Jeannine, his family and countless friends.”

The National Basketball Coaches Association’s statement:

“The membership of the National Basketball Coaches Association joins the NBA family in the mourning the passing of legendary Head Coach and Hall of Fame, Bill Russell. Bill Russell spent eight years as a Head Coach in the NBA with the Boston Celtics, Seattle Supersonics, and the Sacramento Kings. In addition to an illustrious playing career where he won 11 NBA championships, five MVP awards, and two NCAA championships, Bill Russell also won back-to-back NBA championships as a Player-Coach with the Boston Celtics in 1969 and 1969. Russell became the league’s first Black Head Coach in 1966 and was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1975, and once a gain as a Coach in 2021. In addition to his on-court achievements, Russell will forever be remembered for his off-the-court legacy where he fought tirelessly for equality, inclusion, civil rights, and social justice.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Russell family and the Celtics organization during this difficult time.”