Among frontcourt greats in the NBA, Celtics’ Bill Russell cast a long shadow

In 2017, during the first annual NBA awards show, the league honored Hall of Fame Boston Celtics big man Bill Russell with a lifetime achievement award. It was presented by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson and Dikembe Mutombo — all big man legends in their own right. His friend and mentee Abdul-Jabbar spoke on Russell’s legacy.

“Combining a point guard’s quickness with a big man’s size, Bill’s talents refined this sport,” said the Los Angeles Laker legend via NBA on TNT (h/t Sportscasting’s Tim van Straten). “He showed how basketball could be won on the defensive end of the court; using his mind, as well as his body, to outthink and outsmart opponents.”

“Whether it’s his lifetime commitment to civil rights, or his role as founder of MENTOR, a national youth mentoring organization, Bill’s legacy is as profound as it is thrilling,” he added.

Russell’s response revolving around an obscene hand gesture followed by an assurance he would kick their (expletive) was legendary.

“Thank you, you have no idea how much respect I have for you guys,” Russell continued. “Because you did it in your own time, in your own way, and I appreciate that. And it made me proud to have played this same game as you guys.”

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Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire