Celtics legend Bill Russell dies at 88
Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell has died at the age of 88, his family announced Sunday on social media.
Russell is widely considered one of the best to ever play the game. As a 6-foot-10 center, he was the face of the Celtics dynasty in the late '50s and throughout the '60s. He earned 12 All-Star selections, 11 titles, 11 All-NBA nods, and five MVP awards over his 13-year playing career in Boston.
He succeeded the legendary Red Auerbach as the Celtics' bench boss late in his career, serving as a player-coach from 1966 to 1969. By doing so, Russell became the first Black head coach in North American pro sports history.
Russell remains the franchise's all-time leader in rebounds, win shares, and defensive win shares. The Hall of Famer also ranks fifth on the club's list in triple-doubles, sixth in assists, and eighth in points. The Celtics retired his No. 6 jersey in March 1972.
"Bill Russell was the greatest champion in all of team sports," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "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."
The NBA renamed the Finals MVP trophy after Russell in 2009. He was selected to the league's 25th, 35th, 50th, and 75th-anniversary teams.
Before making the leap to the Association, Russell starred at the collegiate level for San Francisco. The big man and then-future Celtics teammate K.C. Jones led the Dons to their only national championships in 1955 and 1956.
Russell was the NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Player during the school's first title run and the WCC's Player of the Year the following season. As with the Celtics, the former No. 2 overall pick is still San Francisco's all-time rebounding leader and is among seven Dons players with their jersey in the rafters.