Bill Russell, one of the most important and accomplished athletes in history, died on Sunday at the age of 88 with his wife Jeannine by his side, his family announced. Russell won an NBA record 11 NBA championships, including eight straight, over a 13-year career with the Boston Celtics -- the final two of which he served as Boston's head coach in addition to playing.
There's almost no way to measure the impact Russell had not just on the sport, but society as a whole, during his career, and he continued that impact throughout his life as one of the most socially conscious and active athletes we've ever seen. This is a loss being felt deeply across the world, particularly among current and former Celtics and the NBA community at large.
Below is a small collection of the thoughts people are offering on Twitter, beginning with a statement from NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
Bill Russell‘s DNA is woven through every element of the Celtics organization, from the relentless pursuit of excellence, to the celebration of team rewards over individual glory, to a commitment to social justice and civil rights off the court. (3/4)— Boston Celtics (@celtics) July 31, 2022
Our thoughts are with his family as we mourn his passing and celebrate his enormous legacy in basketball, Boston, and beyond. (4/4)— Boston Celtics (@celtics) July 31, 2022
Bill Russell was my idol. I looked up to him on the court and off. His success on the court was undeniable; he was dominate and great, winning 11 NBA championships. Off the court, Bill Russell paved the way for guys like me. pic.twitter.com/ZMIrEx8Tne— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) July 31, 2022
He was one of the first athletes on the front line fighting for social justice, equity, equality, and civil rights. That’s 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. pic.twitter.com/K73adpaWZ4— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) July 31, 2022
Despite all of his achievements, he was so humble, a gentle giant, a very intelligent man, and used his voice and platform to fight for Black people. Since the day we met, he mentored me and shared advice.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) July 31, 2022
Later in life, he never missed an opportunity to tell me how proud he was of me for what I was doing for Black America throughout the country. I will forever remember his cackling laugh, sense of humor and love for the game of basketball. pic.twitter.com/tLaK2gjlGa— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) July 31, 2022
Today, we lost a giant.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 31, 2022
As tall as Bill Russell stood, his legacy rises far higher—both as a player and as a person.
The world lost a legend with the passing of Bill Russell. His impact on basketball and society will not be forgotten. He handled every adversity with dignity and grace, and walked away a champion. My condolences to his family and those blessed enough to call him a friend.— Patrick Ewing (@CoachEwing33) July 31, 2022
Thanku for being a trailblazer , pioneer Thanku for setting the bar , for ur kind words of wisdom, Thanku for that great laugh u had . I can go on all day about what u meant to me . Today is a sad day for the NBA family u will be forever missed #6— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) July 31, 2022
R.I.P to the legend Bill Russell. 🤴🏿💫— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) July 31, 2022
Rest In Peace Bill Russell a true pioneer of the game. Forever a legend to us all🙏🏾— Anfernee Simons (@AnferneeSimons) July 31, 2022
The NBA family just learned this afternoon that Bill Russell, the 11-time champion and Hall of Fame icon of the Boston Celtics, who used that fame to further the civil rights cause in the United States during the turbulent 1960s, has died at the age of 88. He will be missed💔💔💔 pic.twitter.com/DA4R70Wjps— Dikembe Mutombo (@officialmutombo) July 31, 2022
You continually served as an inspiration on and off the court, leaving an impact on the game as well as the community.— T Mac (@Tmac_213) July 31, 2022
Rest In Peace Bill Russell. Forever a legend🕊
RIP to the Legend Bill Russell— James Harden (@JHarden13) July 31, 2022
R.I.P Bill Russell. You allowed me to be in the position I am in today and you changed not only the league but the world. Forever 6.— Grant Williams (@Grant2Will) July 31, 2022
Bill Russell was the most powerful ambassador of the NBA. I held him in the highest regard and tried to build on the groundwork laid by him and his generation of players. Thank you, Bill, for leading the way and giving us such a high bar to shoot at.— David Robinson (@DavidtheAdmiral) July 31, 2022