The Phoenix Suns and Mercury shared a joint statement on the death of NBA legend and civil rights activist Bill Russell.
Russell, who won 11 NBA championships as a player with the Boston Celtics and became the NBA’s first black head coach, died at the age of 88 Sunday morning.
The Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury join the entire basketball community in mourning the loss of the legendary Bill Russell. The greatest winner in the history of basketball and a trailblazer as the NBA’s first Black head coach, his impact on society extended far beyond the court. He used his platform to fight injustice and advocate for civil rights, creating a legacy that is imprinted on our league and carried on by players today.
Our entire organization will always be grateful for the time he so graciously gave to us over the years. He was kind and generous, and today our thoughts and condolences are with his family and many friends, including our own Ann Meyers Drysdale.
Suns great Charles Barkley shared some thoughts on Russell’s legacy, calling the Hall of Fame big a “hero” whose death is not only and NBA loss, but a world loss.
Charles Barkley’s statement regarding the passing of Bill Russell pic.twitter.com/kVwqnBchzO
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) July 31, 2022
Suns guard Chris Paul posted a tribute on Twitter, saying, “Unapologetically himself at all times!! The ultimate leader and just happened to be one of the best hoopers ever! RIP Mr Russell, you will be dearly missed.”
Unapologetically himself at all times!! The ultimate leader and just happened to be one of the best hoopers ever! RIP Mr Russell, you will be dearly missed pic.twitter.com/30xXhoGXsj
— Chris Paul (@CP3) July 31, 2022
Devin Booker shared photos of Russell on his Instagram, one with the caption, “Rest easy OG.”
The Mercury, meanwhile, posted a photo of Russell visiting the team in 2018. On Twitter during the time, Russell called Diana Taurasi one of his favorite players and Meyers Drysdale a Hall of Fame great.
Taken in 2018.
Bill, who always made time to visit, told us before our first title in 2007, ‘𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐢𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐦𝐩𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡.’
We’ll never forget all the generosity. Rest easy, Mr. Russell. pic.twitter.com/SZQGaNVhVc
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) July 31, 2022
In 2009, at the All-Star Game in Phoenix, the NBA announced a new award name: The Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award, fitting for the most decorated player the league has ever seen.
“This is one of my proudest moments in basketball, because I determined early in my career, the only important statistic in basketball is the final score,” he said at the time, as shared by the Suns on social media.
Russell’s death was announced by his family on Twitter with a message to act and speak up with Russell’s commitment to principle.