The former president of the United States Barack Obamaformer NBA players Michael Jordan, Earvin Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Nealthe technician Gregg Popovich and the former billie jean king expressed this Sunday their condolences for the death, at the age of 88, of bill russelllegend of the Boston Celtics.
“Today we lost a giant. As tall as Bill Russell was, his legacy is much higher, both as a player and on a human level,” Barack Obama wrote on his Twitter account.
Russell, born in Monroe (Louisiana) in 1934, won eleven NBA titles in thirteen seasons with the Boston Celtics and was one of the American athletes who had the most weight in the fight for equality.
He was the first African-American coach in the history of American sports and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama in 2011.
THE FAREWELL OF MICHAEL JORDAN
“Bill Russell was a pioneer, as a player, as a champion, as the NBA’s first African-American coach, as an activist,” said Michael Jordan, six-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls, in a message published by the franchise that owns, the Charlotte Hornets.
“He set an example for every African-American player who came into the league after him, myself included. The world lost a legend. My condolences to the family and may he rest in peace.”
MJ was joined by Scottie Pippen, his partner in the Bulls’ legendary winning cycle, who defined Russell as “the epitome of a champion, in every sense of the word.”
“He was an innovator who broke barriers and was as extraordinary on the track as he was off it,” he added.
LEBRON AND SHAQ FIRED A PIONEER
“Today the basketball community must learn of the passing of NBA legend Bill Russell. We will never forget you,” LeBron James wrote on Instagram after receiving the news of the eleven-time NBA champion’s passing.
“Thank you for leading the way. You will be missed, legend,” was the message posted by Shaquille O’Neal, who played in Boston in the 2010-2011 season.
MAGIC JOHNSON, HEARTBROKEN
Jordan was joined by Magic Johnson, who had a strong bond of friendship with Bill Russell.
“It breaks my heart to learn of the death of the greatest winner basketball history has ever seen, a legend, a Hall of Famer, a mentor and a friend for over 30 years, Bill Russell,” he said. Earvin Magic Johnson, who played for the Lakers from 1979 to 1991.
Gregg Popovich, coach of the San Antonio Spurs, was full of praise for Bill Russell and considered that, beyond his extraordinary sports results, his “greatest achievement” is represented by “the past six decades fighting tirelessly for civil rights” .
AN EXAMPLE FOR BILLIE JEAN KING
Messages of praise for Bill Russell also came from the world of tennis.
“Bill Russell was a unique athlete-activist who made everyone around him better. He was a trailblazer and paved the way for many. I looked up to him my whole life and he had a huge influence on my career. He was a leader, a teammate. of team and a born champion”, was the message published by former tennis player Billie Jean King.
Just as Bill Russell did during his career, with concrete gestures to protest against discrimination, Billie Jean King is one of the great figures of American sports in the fight for gender equality.
THE NBA, GRATEFUL
Particularly heartfelt was the message sent by the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver.
“Bill Russell was the greatest champion in team sports. The countless accolades he received in his storied career with the Boston Celtics, including a record eleven titles and five MVP awards, only partially explain Bill’s immense impact on our league and in our society,” Adam Silver said in a statement released by the NBA.
“Bill fought for something much bigger than sports: the values of equality, respect and inclusion that he wrote in the DNA of our league. At the height of his sports career, Bill fought vigorously for civil rights and social justice and created a legacy that reached generations of NBA players who followed in his footsteps.”