The game of basketball lost a legend when Hall of Fame center Bill Russell passed away at the age of 88 years old. He is one of the best players ever to step foot on an NBA court as he accomplished as much as anyone in the history of the game.
Russell has a resume like none other, winning the MVP award five times and making 12 All-Star games. He was a key cog in the Boston Celtics lineup that won 11 championships in his 13-year career.
Winning followed him at every level as Russell was a two-time champion at San Francisco collegiately. He also helped the United States national basketball team win the gold medal during the 1956 Summer Olympics.
While not the first player to break the color barrier in the NBA, Russell was the first to reach the superstardom level normally reserved for white players. He became the first African American head coach in league history when he was a player-coach for the Celtics.
While the things he achieved on the court were truly impressive, he was also active off the court. He fought against racism and bigotry and his efforts during the civil rights movement were recognized by Barack Obama in 2011 as Russell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for what he accomplished both on and off the court.
Bill Russell had an impact not only on the game of basketball but outside of it as well. For that reason, Magic Johnson recently shared his thought that the NBA needs to recognize the legacy that Russell left behind and retire the No. 6 in his honor, and the league announced they have decided to do so.
This is something that the MLB has done with Jackie Robinson and the No. 42 and is something that the NBA could seriously consider. The NBA Finals MVP award was renamed in his honor in 2009 and Johnson is far from the only person who believes that his No. 6 should hang in the rafters in every arena around the league.
Bill Russell’s legacy should never be forgotten and retiring his number will help people remember everything that he accomplished not only as an athlete but as a person fighting for equality and against injustices.
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