Bulls great Michael Jordan on Bill Russell: ‘The world has lost a legend’

Sunday’s news that Celtics legend and Hall of Famer Bill Russell has died at the age of 88 has prompted mourning and praise from every corner of the NBA world.

Former Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan added his voice to the chorus on Sunday afternoon, issuing the following statement:

Bill Russell was a pioneer—as a player, as a champion, as the NBA’s first black head coach, and as an activist. He led 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. My condolences to his family and may he rest in peace.

Michael Jordan on Bill Russell

Russell’s track record of winning the NBA is unparalleled. In 13 seasons as a player, he won 11 championships and five MVP awards, as well as earned 12 All-Star selections. He won two titles as a coach in 1966, becoming the first black coach of any North American pro sports team.

Jordan certainly had his share of success as a player, winning six titles and an NBA-record six Finals MVP awards, an honor that was eventually named after Russell in 2009.

As Jordan said in his statement, Russell was a fierce champion of civil rights both as a player and even after retirement. In 2011, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

And so Jordan’s claim that “the world has lost a legend” is true in countless ways. But the respect with which so many pillars of sport and society speak of Russell shows that his legacy will live on forever.

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