Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell basically became synonymous with winning during his NBA career.
The big center secured 11 NBA championships under coach Red Auerbach during the storied franchise’s annihilation of the league’s early days.
The 12-time All-Star played 13 seasons in the league with only two of those years not resulting in championships, largely due to Russell’s dominance, especially with defense and rebounding.
The NBA has gone out of its way in recent years to shower Russell with some overdue credit for his contribution to the game. The league recently named the NBA Finals MVP award after him, as Kevin Durant took home the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award on Monday night after his Golden State Warriors topped the Cleveland Cavaliers in this year’s finals.
Now, the league announced another honor that will be coming Russell’s way this summer.
On Thursday, it was announced that Russell will be presented with the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award when the league hosts its inaugural NBA Awards, which are June 26 on TNT in New York City.
The night also features the presentation of many other NBA awards, including the MVP trophy, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Most Improved Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Executive of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year, the Sportsmanship Award, the NBA All-Defensive Team and All-Rookie Team, and the NBA Cares Community Assist Award.
James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs are the three finalists for MVP, a race that was dissected by pundits all season.
Russell averaged a ridiculous 22.5 rebounds per game during his season, leading the league in five seasons. He also won five most valuable player awards, tied with Michael Jordan for second all-time, trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who won the award six times.
Russell averaged 15.1 points per game in his career, during which blocked shots weren’t recorded as an official stat, or he’d be among the all-time leaders in that category too.
A two-time NCAA champion at San Francisco and a gold medalist from the 1956 Summer Olympics, Russell also served as player and coach for the Celtics in his last three seasons with the team.
Russell, who is now 83 years old, is from Monroe, Louisiana.
The league could not have found anyone who is more deserving of this appropriate honor.