One of the BEST has passed on….

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                             COMMENTARY
            ….one of the BEST has passed on….
                       (by Carlyle Harry)
                             INTRO.

  

Readers, on Sunday, July 31 st., we learnt with great sadness, the passing of  all-time great—Celtics’ Center, Bill Russel; he was 88 years…The Hall of Famer died peacefully with his wife Jeannine by his side.
Because of Russel’s endeavors and achievements, I consider it necessary to do this piece on him as a source of inspiration and encouragement to the rest of us…I shall be approaching the article in two segments—the first part will address Russel’s activities and involvement(s); while the second part will describe a cross-section of acknowledgments that were heaped on him.
{Peter Sblendorio remarked that Russel’s death rocked the sporting world…He was born on February 12, 1934…When Chamberlain became the NBA’s first $100,000 player in 1965, Russel visited the Celtics’ offices, and made a salary demand for $100,001…He wanted to be paid because he was winning.}
—The 6 foot, ten Russel, a five time NBA Most Valuable Player who averaged 15.1 points and 22.5 rebounds per game during his career from 1956 to 1969–playing each of his seasons for the Celtics.
—Russel was a 12-time All Star, five-time rebounding champion, and was included on the NBA’s 50th and 75th anniversary lists of the greatest players of all time.
—Russel became the first black coach in professional sports in North America in 1966…Spending his last three seasons with the Celtics as a Player/Coach…By winning his final two championships as a player/coach; Russel also became the first black coach to win a professional championship in North America.
—Born in Monroe Los Angeles-California Russel won NCAA Championships with the University of San Francisco in 1955 and 1956, before he was selected second overall in the 1956 NBA Draft by the St.Louis Hawks, which traded him to the Boston Celtics.
—Russel also won an Olympic gold medal with Team USA at the 1956 Games in Melbourne, Australia.
** The Celtics retired Russel’s No.6 in 1972; and he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1975…He was inducted into the Hall of Fame for a second time as a Coach during 2021.
Finally, following his playing career, Russel coached the Supersonics; and the Kings from 1987 to 1988….He boasted a 341-290 career coaching record.
                     RETIREMENT OF JERSEY
The NBA announced on Thursday, August 12,  that it was retiring Russel’s NUMBER-6 across the League…Russel becomes the first NBA player to have his NUMBER retired league-wide.
—-Players who are currently wearing No.6 will be allowed to continue using the number.
Lebron James of the Lakers and Quentin Grimes of the Knicks are among the players who wore No.6 last season.

                           COMMENTS
As expected, there were hundreds of comments that followed the announcement of Russel’s death….I thus opted to select a variety of comments from various personnel to reproduce in this subset:—
*  Sportswriter, Mike Lupica wrote “we will all talk about the winning that Bill Russel did in basketball, because he is the greatest winner that team sports in America has ever produced;
* Former President-Barack Obama posted on Twitter”today we lost a Giant as tall as Bill Russel stood, his legacy rises far higher—both as a player and as a person.”;
* National Basketball  Commissioner-Adam Silver emphasized”Bill Russel was the greatest champion in all of team sports.The countless accolades that he earned for his storied career with the Boston Celtics, including a record 11 championships and five MVP awards—only begin to tell the story of Bill’s immense impact on our League and broader society.”;
* The Boston Celtics mentioned in a statement”To be the greatest champion in your sport, to revolutionize the way that the Game is played, and to be a social leader all at once seems unthinkable, but that is who Bill Russel was.Bill was a champion unlike any other in the history of team sports—an 11 time NBA champion, including winning eight consecutive titles, a five time MVP, an Olympic Gold Medalist, and the NBA’s first black head coach.”;
* Magic Johnson tweeted”he was one of the first athletes on the front line fighting for social Justice, equity, equality, and civil rights.That is why I admired and loved him so much.Over the course of our friendship, he always reminded me about making things better in the black community.”;
* Michael Jordan said in a statement”Bill Russel was a pioneer, as a player, as a champion, as the NBA’s first black coach and as an activist. He paved the way and set an example for every black player who came into the League after him, including me…The world has lost a legend.”;
* Reverend Al Sharpton concluded”Bill Russel was bigger than basketball, even though he was one of the greatest players of all times.He stood for civil and human rights before it was trendy, in fact when he did it, it was risky.He was a true giant on and off the court.”;
* Tennis Great-Billie Jean King added”Bill Russel was one in a generation- an activist athlete who made all of those around hIm better on and off the court.He had a career of firsts, and led the way for so many…I admired him my entire life, and he had a huge influence on my career and my life…He was the ultimate leader, ultimate team player and the ultimate Champion.”
                             **********************************
Russel was the greatest,
via demonstrations of greatness.
He was the best
having passed many tests.

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