A cruel farewell to the legend of basketball, sports and social activism
The news came like a bucket of cold water. As usual. And with a cold sentence, too: “Bill Russell, the most prolific winner in American sports history, passed away peacefully at the age of 88, with his wife, Janine, at his side.”
Emotions ran fast and hot. Because the opening paragraph of his family’s statement, far from alerting us to the sad news, prompted us relentlessly to remember his greatness.
So great a greatness that it almost did not fit in its height of 2.08 meters. But more than the greatness of their numbers, what transcends their humanity is their human skills.
Not even his most outrageous rival, perhaps Wilt Chamberlain Most famously, it can be considered an enemy.
Nobody in the NBA world can even try to disrespect him. It’s just his presence, but above all, his way of acting in life, forcing him to worship his masculinity.
He was a legend on the field, but also beyond. Perhaps the greatest legend in the NBA.
Bill Russell He was not only loved by Boston Celtics fans. They were lucky to never have to struggle every time the team they loved faced an opponent.
It’s just that all American basketball and sports have learned to separate the wheat from the chaff: it was impossible not to love and respect a man like him.
His biography includes many awards, titles and achievements. Hands weren’t enough to wear all the rings he won in the NBA.
But reviewing his numbers would be like falling into the cold statistics of a man who has known by his sacred fire how to overcome not only competitors, but also cultural and even racial barriers all his life.
When you are reminded of that from now on, there will be no divisions. There will be no discussion of his achievements or, crucially, his legacy.
Because you are beyond the boundaries of basketball or sports in its entirety. His legacy is convincing evidence that he was a perfect, humble, upright and respectful man like no other.
Bill Russell turned out to be a perpetual beacon who lit the lives of several generations, and helped them by his example even in troubled times. With him the mold broke.
No one will be more respected than Bill Russell. Nor does anyone surpass his gigantic stature as a person. Nor can anyone leave a profound impact on society.
On July 31, 2022, we defeated a real giant.
Rest in peace, legend.