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Bill Russell, Who Transformed Pro Basketball, Dies at 88
A Hall of Famer who led the Celtics to 11 championships, he was “the single most devastating force in the history of the game,” his coach Red Auerbach said.
Even before the opening tipoff at Boston Celtics games, Bill Russell evoked domination. Other players ran onto the court for their introductions, but he walked on, slightly stooped.
“I’d look at everybody disdainfully, like a sleepy dragon who can’t be bothered to scare off another would-be hero,” he recalled. “I wanted my look to say, ‘Hey, the king’s here tonight.’ ”
Russell’s awesome rebounding triggered a Celtic fast break that overwhelmed the rest of the N.B.A. His quickness and his uncanny ability to block shots transformed the center position, once a spot for slow and hulking types, and changed the face of pro basketball.