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  • Lotan Diker

Farewell to a huge basketball player and an equally impressive person Bill Russell (1934 - 2022)

There aren't many basketball players throughout history who have reached even a quarter of Bill Russell's accomplishments. Starting with the best player, 11 championship titles of the first black coach and a long list of achievements for which you can open a separate list. Along with unimaginable achievements as an athlete and as a person who was more successful than anyone else in winning NBA championships, he was an influencer whose concept did not yet exist.

He was born in 1934 into a world saturated with racism, Hitler came to power in 1933 and five years after his arrival in the world, World War II will begin. In the United States, racial segregation was introduced in the southern region where he was born. His father pushed him to play, he would fill up at a gas station where white customers shot him twice. He believed that only sports would lead his son to success and indeed in 1956 he reached the professional league.

He came to Boston, and it was love at first sight. Even though some fans were racist and cursed him with every racist curse in the lexicon he won championships and silenced the grumblings. He tried to live in the prestigious neighborhoods but even though he was a decorated champion he was rejected again and again. Martin Luther King was a model for him, he spoke for black rights and even boycotted training in order to attend his funeral, which caused a huge fight with the management of the NBC.

In 1957 he refused to participate in the Basketball Hall of Fame because he was the only black person elected even though they were the majority in the league. He argued that an athlete should be tested not for athletic abilities but for the effect or change he is able to bring about. He was a unique center, a tremendous rebounder but not an outstanding scorer. A team player who did everything on the field and made his teammates better.

He won 11 championships in 14 seasons, there was and will be no one to match his record in the foreseeable future. The fact that he was not a player with extraordinary individual achievements suited his special personality, he did everything to win even if it meant playing dirty at times.

Along with a short coaching career, he wrote books, came out against racism wherever he could and even carried King's coffin. Who finally decided to enter the Hall of Fame did so with all his teammates, a man who had no ego despite being a huge superstar. His greatest victory was receiving the Presidential Medal of Honour from Barack Obama, a black president bestowing a badge of honour on a human rights fighter. In an age of selfishness and a strong desire to stand out and advertise yourself, Russell is a beacon of light and selflessness in an age that has passed and will not return.

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