BOSTON (CBS) — Bill Russell is 83 years old, but he’s as feisty as ever.
The all-time NBA great was honored Monday night at the NBA Awards, where he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions both on and off the court.
As a sign of Russell’s greatness, the NBA brought five greats in their own right to the stage to present the award: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson and Dikembe Mutombo.
Russell strode to the podium, cane clutched in his right hand, and sized up the five Hall of Famers standing before him. After pausing in front of the microphone, Russell held up his hand as if to be secretly whispering to the quintet standing before him.
His message was legendary.
The group on stage clearly had no idea that Russell was going to come to the stage with that kind of humor.
“You have no idea how much respect I have for you guys,” Russell said sincerely after the joking comment.
Of course, it wasn’t all for laughs, as Russell is among the most important athletes in American sports history.
Russell won 11 championships in 13 NBA seasons. He became the first African-American to coach a major professional sports team and he was a leader for equal rights in the ’60s and ’70s.