NBA legend Bill Russell died on Sunday, according to his family. He was 88.
Russell had health scares in the past, collapsing at a speaking engagement in 2014 and needing to be hospitalized in May 2018 for dehydration. In both instances, however, he recovered quickly.
In his NBA career, Russell was peerless when it came to winning titles. He won 11 in his 13 professional seasons (1956-69) with the Boston Celtics, which is the most in NBA history among players. He also made 12 trips to the All-Star Game, won five MVP awards and was twice named a first-team All-NBA selection. In 1975, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
He averaged 15.1 points and 22.5 rebounds rebounds per game over the course of his career, solidifying himself as one of the most dominant centers of all time. In 1996, Russell was voted one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.
During his era, Russell and Wilt Chamberlain battled for supremacy on the interior. Chamberlain was statistically superior (30.1 PPG, 22.9 RPG in his career) and arguably more dominant on an individual basis.
“People say it was the greatest individual rivalry they’ve ever seen,” Russell said in the ’90s, per basketball writer Bob Ryan. “I agree with that. I have to laugh today. I’ll turn on the TV and see the Knicks play the Lakers, and half the time Patrick [Ewing] isn’t even guarding Shaq [O’Neal], and vice-versa. Let me assure you that if either Wilt’s or Russ’ coach had ever told one of them he couldn’t guard the other guy, he would have lost that player forever!”