California Observer

Civil Rights Activist Bill Russell has Passed Away

Bill Russell

Image Source: Distractify

Bill Russell, a civil rights activist and an 11-time NBA champion who was a Boston Celtics great. He passed away at the age of 88. Former President Barack Obama led the tributes.

Bill Russell – NBA Champion

Russell won 11 championships with the Celtics from 1956 to 1969. It was one of the most successful periods in the history of the team. However, Russell faced a great deal of prejudice and harassment while he was a member of the Boston Celtics.

However, Russell fought for equality all of his life, using his position to do it. Notably, he was present at the March on Washington in 1963 when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. He stood by Muhammad Ali when the boxer came under fire for opposing being drafted into the military.

In 2011, Obama bestowed the highest civilian accolade in the country, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, upon Russell.

When Obama learned of his passing, he wrote on Twitter, “Today, we lost a giant.” Bill Russell may have been as tall as he was, but his legacy as a person and a player is much greater.

Additionally, Russell helped the United States win the gold medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. As well as two NCAA championships in San Francisco in 1955 and 1956. These accomplishments helped Russell go on to win the NBA MVP award five times and be an All-Star 12 times.

Between 1956 and 1969, Russell played with the Celtics for 13 seasons, averaging 15.1 points and 22.5 rebounds each year. 1975 saw his initial induction as a player, and 2021 saw his second induction as a coach. The Celtics have decommissioned his No. 6 jersey.

It is with a very heavy heart that we would want to pass this along to all of Bill’s friends, fans, and followers. At the age of 88, Bill Russell—the most successful athlete in American sports history. He died peacefully with his wife, Jeannine, by his side. We’ll shortly make arrangements for his memorial service.

Bill Russell – Greatest Champions in US

Along with his civil rights activism, he is regarded as one of the greatest champions in US sporting history as well as the finest defensive player in NBA history.

The Louisiana native made history as a black athlete in a city and a nation where racial tensions are frequently a subject of contention.

In 2011, Congressman John Lewis, financier Warren Buffett, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and baseball legend Stan Musial were among those to receive the Medal of Freedom from President Obama.

How it all began for Bill Russell

Russell claimed that while he was growing up in the segregated South and subsequently in California, his parents gave him the quiet confidence that enabled him to ignore racist slurs.

Russell, a center who stands 6 feet 10 inches tall, never scored more than 18.9 points per game over the course of his 13 seasons, and he typically grabbed more rebounds than points. He averaged over 20 rebounds per game during a ten-year period. His friend and adversary, Wilt Chamberlain, currently holds the record with 55 rebounds in a game. He once had 51 rebounds.

Following Auberach’s retirement in 1966, following their championship, Russell was named player-coach for the Celtics.

Nearly ten years before Frank Robinson took charge of baseball’s Cleveland Indians, he was the first black head coach in NBA history.

The Eastern Division finals loss to Chamberlain and the Philadelphia 76ers put an end to Boston’s championship run despite the Celtics having the best regular-season record in the NBA.

Russell Announcing His Retirement

In 1968 and ’69, Russell led the Celtics to back-to-back championships while defeating Chamberlain in seven-game playoff series each time. After the 1969 NBA Finals, Russell announced his retirement. He came back to work as the coach and general manager of the Seattle SuperSonics for four years. There he was moderately successful but ultimately unfulfilled, and the Sacramento Kings for half a season, where he was less successful.

2013 saw the unveiling of a statue of Russell at Boston’s City Hall Plaza. It is surrounded by granite stones with motivational and inspirational quotes engraved on them.

Although Russell was the first African American to be elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame, he refused to attend the event. (His pick for the NBA was Chuck Cooper, the league’s first black player.)

Russell took the ring to a private ceremony to receive it in 2019. I thought those who came before me should have had that honor, “he tweeted. “I’m glad to see development.”

Additionally, he was a sharp-witted man. Five other illustrious centers, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, and Dikembe Mutombo,. They joined him on stage at the 2017 NBA Awards when he accepted the NBA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Opinions expressed by California Observer contributors are their own.



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Opinions expressed by California Observer contributors are their own.