It made absolute sense when the NBA announced that Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell would receive the league’s first Lifetime Achievement Award at Monday’s 2017 NBA Awards. Russell is a universally respected icon with unimpeachable credentials as an athlete and bona fide hero of the civil rights era. It’s no surprise that the NBA picked him for this honor.
That’s not to say that the presentation of the award was rote. With many Hall of Fame centers on stage alongside him, Russell communicate one simple message:
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 27, 2017
It’s hard to argue. Russell never played against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, or Dikembe Mutombo, but he’s one of the best players of all time and typically came out ahead (or, at worst, even in the individual matchup) with Wilt Chamberlain during the heyday of their rivalry. Who’s to argue?
Plus, Russell showed that his competitive spirit is still very much alive at 83 years old. He could probably still take any of those guys.
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