Emotional messages from Obama, MichaelJordan, LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal on the death of Bill Russell

Bill Russell, died at the age of 88 (Danny Moloshok /)

Former United States President Barack Obama, former NBA players Michael Jordan, Earvin Magic Johnson, LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal, coach Gregg Popovich and former tennis player Billie Jean King expressed their condolences on Sunday for the death, at age 88, by Bill Russell, legend 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.


“Bill Russell was a pioneer, as a player, as a champion, as the first African-American NBA coach, as an activist”Michael Jordan, a six-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls, said in a message posted by the franchise he owns, the Charlotte Hornets.

Basketball player Michael Jordan
Basketball player Michael Jordan (JULIEN DE ROSA/)

“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.”he added.

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.


“Today the basketball community must learn of the passing of NBA legend Bill Russell. We will never forget you”wrote LeBron James on Instagram after receiving the news of the death of the eleven-time NBA champion.

Lebron James

“Thank you for leading the way. You will be missed, legend.” was the message posted by Shaquille O’Neal, who played for Boston in the 2010-2011 season.

Shaquille O'Neal
Shaquille O’Neal


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.”said Earvin Magic Johnson, who played for the Lakers from 1979 to 1991.

magic johnson
Magic Johnson (DAVID SWANSON/)

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” .

Gregg Popovich, manager of the San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich (Bruce Kluckhohn/)


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 pioneer and paved the way for many. I admired him all my life and he had a huge influence on my career. He was a leader, a teammate and a born champion”was the message published by former tennis player Billie Jean King.

Former tennis player Billie Jean King
Former tennis player Billie Jean King (HANNAH MCKAY/)

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.


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 our society.” Adam Silver highlighted 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 career, Bill vigorously fought for civil rights and social justice and created a legacy that has passed on to generations of NBA players who have followed in his footsteps.”he added.

(With information from EFE)


Basketball star Bill Russell has died at the age of 88