Bill Russell’s obituary | NBA

In his 13 seasons in the NBA with the Boston Celtics, Bill Russell, who died at the age of 88, won 11 championships, an unparalleled record in team sports. But his place as one of the most influential American athletes of the 20th century, is only behind him Muhammad Ali And baseball player Jackie Robinson probably counts on more than his stubborn will to win, and his wit in pairing his skills with his teammates to facilitate the process.

He was the first black star in the NBA, and five times the most valuable player in the league. His defensive jumping ability transformed basketball from a horizontal game into a vertical one. In 1966, when Celtics coach Reed Auerbach stepped down and appointed Russell as his successor, he became the first black coach in the four major sports leagues in modern America.

Off the field, he was a pioneer in the fight for human dignity. Russell stood beside Martin Luther King during his stay “I have a dream” Speech in Washington. When Ali resisted conscription, Russell was by his side inCleveland SummitStar athletes, with soccer star and actor Jim Brown on the other side.

Russell came to his abilities late, but learned his sense of self-worth early on. Born in Monroe, in the deeply secluded state of Louisiana, his father Charlie taught young Bill what his father had taught him: “A man must draw a line within himself and no man will let him cross it.” When Charlie was denied a salary increase he thought he deserved, he went to work in Detroit, leaving his wife, Katie (née King), to take care of their two sons, Bill and his brother Charlie Jr. He moved to Oakland, California, and started a profitable trucking business to transport daily labor, and send for the family. But when Bill was 12, Katie died, and Charlie took a job at a steel mill in order to spend more time with his children.

Bell didn’t make the high school basketball team until his senior year. His only scholarship offer came from the University of San Francisco, but it developed quickly. The Basketball Association has won consecutive National Basketball Championships in its junior and senior seasons, losing only one game and winning 55 in a row. In the 1956 final against Iowa, Russell scored 26 points, scored 27 rebounds and stopped 20 shots. He was the top scorer for the US Olympic team that won the gold medal in Melbourne that year, winning an unmatched average of 53.5 points per game.

Bill Russell with Celtics coach Reed Auerbach after the team won their eighth consecutive NBA title in 1966. Russell succeeded Auerbach to become the first black coach in the major American sports leagues. Photo: AP

Meanwhile, Auerbach traded star players for a second pick in the NBA draft, and Celtics owner Walter Brown convinced the Rochester Royals to pass Russell with the first pick, by making their venue a chance to host a money-spinning two-week ice-spinning show in contrast. After the Olympics, Russell led the Celtics to the 1957 title, over the St. Louis Hawks. In fact, Russell might have won 12 titles in 13 years had he not injured his ankle in Game Three of the 1958 Finals, as well as against the Hawks, which the Celtics then lost.

At 2.08 meters (6 feet 10 inches) and 99 kg (15 feet 10 pounds), Russell possessed an agility that changed the way he played the big positions. In college he would run 440 yards (the distance has now been replaced by 400 meters) and jump high; At 1956 Coast Relays, his 2.06m jump tied Charlie Dumas, who won gold in Melbourne. Russell played a sweeper in the middle. His teammates overplayed opponents, defending aggressively, realizing he could cover up their mistakes. He controlled his mass and rebounds to get the ball to his teammates; The crime of “quick-breaking” was born for the “Celtic” brand.

He also won the most American team sports singles competition, against Wilt Chamberlain, who was three inches taller and much larger. Chamberlain broke records, once scoring 100 points in a single match, but Russell won the majority of their encounters, and all but one of their playoff matches. Wilt believed that what was best for him was what was best for the team. As player and coach Russell both sought ways to challenge his teammates without the co-star’s problem of undermining them.

Although he was completely loyal to the Celtics, the first NBA team to draft a black player and the first to start an all-black squad, Russell’s relationship with Boston, Massachusetts, which he described as a “flea market for racism” was even tougher. His home in the neighboring suburbs of Reading was burgled and vandalized. When he complained to the police about the boxes tipping over, they laughingly blamed the raccoons. When Russell asked where he could get a gun license to shoot raccoons, the vandalism stopped.

Bill Russell
Bill Russell responded to the news in 2009 that the NBA Most Valuable Player award had been renamed after him. Photo: Matt York/The Associated Press

Russell protected his privacy by refusing to give signatures; I know, because I ordered one when I was working near him at the 1976 Olympic basketball final in Montreal. He politely refused, but shook my hand. He worked as a television commentator, often seeming to get bored with the limitations of opinions on air, and then as coach and general manager for the Seattle Super Sonics, 3,000 miles from Boston. His four-year success in Seattle was followed by a failed stint with the Sacramento Kings. Russell found players without the Celtics campaigning for team success frustrated. He worked tirelessly on philanthropy, especially the mentorship program he helped set up.

Russell has co-wrote four books. Second Wind (with Taylor Branch, 1979) and Red and Me (with Alan Steinberg, 2009) are classics of sports memoir. In subsequent years, his public persona regressed to match his own, helping solidify his legacy. Boston has made peace, with a statue of him unveiled in 2013 in City Hall Plaza. The NBA Most Valuable Player of the Finals Cup is named after him. In 2012 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama. In 2017, when he was the president Call Donald Trump For the NFL players who got on their knees until they were “kicked out,” Russell released a video of himself kneeling and holding that medal.

His fourth wife, Janine Fiorito, son Jacob and daughter Karen, are survived by his first marriage to Rosie Swisher, which ended in divorce. His eldest son, William Jr. passed away in 2016. His second marriage to Dorothy Anstette, a former Miss USA, ended in divorce. His third wife, Marilyn Nolte, died in 2009.

William Felton Russell, basketball player, born February 12, 1934; He passed away on July 31, 2022