NBA Great Bill Russell Dead at 88

Bill Russell, one of the NBA’s all-time greatest players and a 11-time champion with the Boston Celtics, has died at the age of 88, his family announced on Sunday.

“It is with a very heavy heart we would like to pass along to all of Bill’s friend, fans, & followers: Bill Russell, the most prolific winner in American sports history, passed away peacefully today at age 88, with his wife, Jeannine, by his side,” his official Twitter feed said. “Arrangements for his memorial service will be announced soon.”

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A 6-foot-10 shot-blocker, Russell attended the University of San Francisco and won two NCAA national basketball titles there, with legendary UCLA coach John Wooden calling him “the greatest defensive man I’ve ever seen.” He was drafted by the NBA’s St. Louis Hawks but was soon traded to the Boston Celtics, where he led a dominating dynasty, with the Celtics winning eight straight NBA championships from 1958 to 1966.

In all, Russell won 11 NBA titles with Boston, including two as a player-coach, becoming the first Black coach in NBA history. He also won five NBA MVP trophies and 12 NBA All-Star appearances. Today, Russell is known as one of the NBA’s best players of all time: He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975, and the NBA’s Finals MVP trophy was renamed the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award to honor him in 2009.

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