Bill Russell: 1934-2022.

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(ThyBlackMan.com) The phrase “living legend” isn’t reserved for everyone. It means that a person’s accomplishments have been so outstanding and historic that even among their status among the living that their name and legacy belong along the greats who preceded them. Basketball legend Bill Russell was truly a living legend prior to his passing on July 31, 2022. His presence in any setting was felt and you could imagine that he had an aura around him for those in the same room as him.

His basketball accomplishments are incredible including winning 11 NBA championships, 5 NBA Most Valuable Player awards, and being on the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team from the recently completed 2021-22 NBA season that concluded the NBA’s 75th season. However, Bill Russell is as respected for his social activism as he was for his remarkable accomplishments as an athlete. Few athletes in the history of sports and athletics can be viewed in that light. Bill Russell was a man of considerable character and it shows in how he was remembered by so many following his passing. Here are some thoughtful words about the late, great William Felton Russell by notable people:

“The Bill Russell of the Cleveland Summit was who I wanted to be when I grew up. In fact, the Bill Russell of the Cleveland Summit made me grow up right then and there. As I had emulated him on the court, I chose to also emulate him off the court. I read interviews with him and I read his 1966 autobiography Go Up for Glory about his experiences growing up in segregated America and the obstacles he faced as a Black man in America, despite his fame and accomplishments.”-Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem-Abdul Jabbar

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“Well, Bill Russell was the blueprint for the modern-day athlete. He stood for humanity, activism and equality. But he didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk for the better part of his life. Now as far as on the basketball court, there should be no discussion whatsoever about him possibly being the greatest basketball player of all-time. Nobody has accomplished… with all due respect to everyone else, nobody accomplished what he accomplished on the court. Eleven championships? That’s unheard of.”-former Olympic sprinter and 1968 Black Power salute demonstrator John Carlos

“Bill Russell was the epitome of a champion, in every sense of the word. He was an innovator who broke through barriers and for all of his extraordinary successes on the court, he was just as impactful off of it. Bill faced and overcame adversities and obstacles, and those triumphs would benefit not just future generations of NBA players, but all modern athletes of color. What a life, what a legacy. My condolences to his wife, family, friends and everyone else whose life he touched.”-Basketball Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen

“Bill Russell’s legacy will live forever. He was a remarkable force, athlete, and human. His smile and approach were magnetic. His 11 NBA championships confirm he was the ultimate winner. Yet his most important achievements were the six decades he spent fighting tirelessly for civil rights and social change. He truly made the world a better place.”-5-time NBA championship-winning head coach Gregg Popovich

Staff Writer; Mark Hines