By no means would it be an exaggeration to say that the NBA would not be where it is today without Bill Russell. Russell was the defining player of the NBA during the 1950s and 60s.
Russell was incredibly successful, despite having a career shorter than most legends in the NBA. Russell only played in the NBA for 13 years, and during that run, he won a record-11 NBA Championships, the most by any player in NBA history.
Since his retirement, Russell has gone on to be a coach. And over the last few decades, he has served as an ambassador for the game. Russell makes an appearance at every NBA Finals.
Most notably, he comes to the ceremonies to award the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP trophy, given to the best player on the championship team. On top of that, Russell also makes it a habit to try and interact with the players of today who represent the NBA just like he did during his playing career.
One of the most positive figures in the NBA, Russell always has kind words for the players he interacts with. During an interaction with Tim Duncan, he told the legendary power forward that he was one of his favorite players for the way he played the game during his career.
But perhaps the most beautiful interaction Russell had with a modern NBA star was the one with Kobe Bryant at the 2008 All-Star game. Kobe was having one of the best seasons of his career and would go on to win the regular-season MVP.
During their conversation, the two spoke about how the other had inspired them with their words and their play. Kobe even told Russell that much of his success was thanks to Russell’s bool. Bill then told Kobe that he was extremely proud of the effort that he had put in over the last few months.
« I couldn’t be prouder of you if you were my own son. »
Kobe was visibly touched by Russell’s words, thanking him and giving him a big embrace. It was truly a wonderful moment between two legends of the game.