If you’re the NBA, and your new Awards Show features the league’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award, there is only one possible recipient for such an honor. His name is William Felton Russell.
So, the NBA will do just that.
The league announced on Thursday that Bill Russell will receive the inaugural award on June 26, when the MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man Award, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player and Coach of the Year, among other new honors, will also be unveiled during a 9 p.m. ET broadcast on TNT.
No basketball player has achieved more in his life than Russell. He is an Olympic gold medalist, two-time NCAA champion and 11-time NBA titlist. He is the greatest winner in major American professional sports history, carrying a handful of MVP awards and a dozen All-Star Game appearances in tow. There is a reason why the Finals MVP award Kevin Durant just took home is named in Russell’s honor.
Not only that, but Russell is a civil rights pioneer, participating in the March on Washington in Washington, D.C., in 1963 and the Ali Summit in Cleveland four years later. On the Boston Celtics, he was a member of the NBA’s first all-black starting five and became the first African-American to coach and win a championship for a major pro sports franchise. And that’s just the long and short of it.
In 2010, Russell received the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor. And when the City of Boston finally got around to honoring Russell with a statue in 2013, he would not consent to the project if it did not also honor the mentorship program, for which he’s raised millions.
The man has achieved more in this lifetime than few who have come before him, and certainly more than any other player in basketball history, so nobody is more deserving of being recognized for it.
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