BOSTON (CBS) — The NBA’s greatest champion will soon add another award to his trophy case.
Bill Russell, who won 11 NBA Championships during his career with the Boston Celtics, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the first-ever NBA Awards show on June 26, the league announced on Thursday.
Russell was a basketball pioneer, the first player to win an Olympic Gold Medal, an NBA Championship and a college title. He won back-to-back titles while at the University of San Francisco in 1955 and 1956 and a Gold Medal in 1956 before even touching the floor in an NBA game. He helped take the struggling NBA to new heights when he arrived in Boston, winning titles in 11 of his 13 seasons. Russell brought a “team-first” mentality to the Celtics and focused on the defensive side of the ball in a time when offense was the name of the game, leading to some historic battles with fellow giant Wilt Chamberlain.
Russell also became the first African American to coach a major professional sports team in 1966 and win a championship when he guided the Celtics to back-to-back titles (1968 and 1969). The revolutionary shot-blocker added five NBA MVP awards and 12 All-Star selections to his resume throughout his career. The league recently re-named the NBA Finals MVP Award in Russell’s honor.
He was also honored for being a leader for equal rights in the ’60s and ’70s, both on and off the floor, when Russell received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
The NBA Awards show will air on TNT on Monday, June 26 starting at 9pm.