NEW YORK – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver today released the following statement regarding the passing of Bill Russell:
“Bill Russell was the greatest champion in all of team sports. The countless accolades he won for his storied career with the Boston Celtics – including a record 11 championships and five MVP awards – only begin to tell the story. Bill’s immense impact on our league and society in general.
“Bill represented something much bigger than sport: the values of equality, respect and inclusion that he inscribed in our league’s DNA. At the height of his athletic career, Bill vigorously championed civil rights and social justice, a legacy he passed on to generations of NBA players who followed in his footsteps. Through taunts, threats and unthinkable adversity, Bill overcame it all and remained true to his belief that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity.
“For nearly 35 years since Bill ended his pioneering career as the league’s first black head coach, we’ve been blessed to see him at every major NBA event, including the NBA Finals. NBA, where he presented the Bill Russell Trophy to the Finals MVP.
“I treasured my friendship with Bill and was thrilled when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I often called him Babe Ruth of basketball for how he transcended time. Bill was the ultimate winner and an accomplished teammate, and his influence on the NBA will be felt forever.We send our deepest condolences to his wife, Jeannine, family and many friends.