A life well-lived in photos


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Fans of the Boston Celtics, NBA, and Bill Russell mourned the loss of the Hall of Fame big man after news of his passing broke on Sunday, July 31, with a mixture of sadness and celebration for the life the 88-year-old basketball star and civil rights icon lived.

From his first years at the University of San Francisco winning back-to-back NCAA titles to his sparking of the Celtics dynasty in the late 1950s through the 1960s, his work advocating for social justice and racial equality right up until his death, Russell lived a truly incomparable life. Active both in the wider NBA community and fighting for justice on all fronts throughout his remarkable life, there will never be a greater winner in sport, nor fighter in life.

In commemoration of that extraordinary existence, let’s take a look at Russell’s time with Boston and beyond captured in images.

1955

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Bill Russell is in fine form as he dunks the ball with ease, on Jan. 31, 1955. The 6-foot, 10-inch center played for the University of San Francisco. PHOTO: AP Photo

1956

Walter Brown Bill Russell

Walter Brown Bill Russell

Basketball player Bill Russell, right, signs the contract with the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association at Boston Garden in Boston, Mass., on Dec. 19, 1956. Seated at left is Celtics co-owner and president Walter Brown, and standing behind him is co-owner Lou Pieri of Providence, R.I. (AP Photo)

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Bill Russell of San Francisco and the Olympic basketball team wears a Boston Celtics uniform for his first workout with the NBA team shortly after having signed a contract in Boston, Ma., on Dec. 19, 1956. (AP Photo)

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Bill Russell (6), the most publicized player to come out of college basketball in years, is fouled by Bob Pettit (9) of the St. Louis Hawks, as Russell made his professional debut with the Boston Celtics in Boston, on Dec. 22, 1956. The Celtics won the nationally televised game, 95-93. (AP Photo/J. Walter Green)

1957

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Tommy Heinsohn (center) of the Boston Celtics is swarmed by fans after the Boston Celtics defeated the St.Louis Hawks at Boston Garden: 25 to 123 at Boston Garden today April 13, 1957, to win their first National Basketball Association Championship. Heinsohn scored 37 points for the happy Celtics. At left is Jim Luscutoff and behind Heinsohn is Bill Russell. (AP Photo).

1958

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Cliff Hagan (16) of the St. Louis Hawks goes up for a shot in the first quarter of the game of the final playoffs for the NBA championship, April 2, 1958, St. Louis, Mo. He is guarded by Boston Celtics Bill Russell, left, and Tommy Heinsohn (15), right. (AP Photo)

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Six-foot-ten-inch Bill Russell (6) of the Boston Celtics, puts the big stretch on to score as Woody Sauldsberry (14) of the Philadelphia Warriors throws his six-foot-seven-inch frame into the air in an attempt to block the shot in Philadelphia, Pa., March 27, 1958. Other players are Arnie Risen (19) of the Celtics and Joe Graboski (9) of the Warriors. The Warriors won 112-97 to stay in the NBA playoff 3-1. (AP Photo/Sam Myers)

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Long-armed, lanky Bill Russell of San Francisco proves too much for Japan’s smaller H. Saito (7) and T. Itoyama (3) as he gets ready to sink a basket during the American 98 to 40 routes of the Japanese in an Olympic Games basketball game at Melbourne on Nov. 23, 1956. (AP Photo)

1959

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Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics leaps into the air for a shot at the basket as Boo Ellis (12) of the Minneapolis Lakers keeps his eye on the ball in their NBA playoff game at Boston Garden on April 5, 1959. Guarding another Minneapolis player is Ben Swain of the Celtics. Boston won 128-108. (AP Photo)

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BOSTON, MA – 1959: Bill Russell #6 of the Boston Celtics shoots the ball against Wilt Chamberlain #13 of the Philadelphia Warriors during a game circa 1959 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)

1960

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Boston, MA – 1/1/1960: From left, Boston Celtics players Tom Heinsohn, Bill Russell, Capt. Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, and Frank Ramsey pose together at the Boston Garden in Boston circa 1960. (Boston Globe Archive)

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Bill Russell (6) of the Boston Celtics lays up a shot as Clyde Lovelletts (34) of the St. Louis Hawks attempts to block the play in their National Basketball Assn. playoff game at Boston Garden on April 5, 1960. Watching the action is Gene Conley (17) of the Celtics. (AP Photo)

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Bill Russell (6) defensive ace of the Boston Celtics, fires a successful hook shot as Jim Krebs of the Los Angeles Lakers fails to stop the basket in Los Angeles, Calif., Dec. 5, 1960. At right are Elgin Baylor of the Lakers and Jim Loscutoff of the Celtics. Boston won 123-101. (AP Photo/David F. Smith)

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1961

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Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics jumps higher than the basket to recover a rebound against the Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia’s convention hall in Philadelphia on Nov. 9, 1961. Detroit handed the Bostonians their first NBA loss of the season 116-110. Other players are George Lee (12) and Gene Shue (21) of the Pistons and Sam Jones of the Celtics. (AP Photo)

1962

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BOSTON – 1962: The World Champions of basketball Boston Celtics pose for a team portrait seated (L-R): K. C. Jones Gary Phillips, President Walter A. Brown, Head Coach Red Auerbach, Treasurer Lou Pieri, Captain Bob Cousy, Sam Jones. Standing Frank Ramsey, Tom Sanders, Tom Heinsohn, Bill Russell Gene Guarillia, Jim Loscutoff, Carl Brown, Trainer Buddy LeRoux in Boston, Massachusetts in 1962. (Photo by NBAP/ NBAE/ Getty Images)

1962

1962

Wilt Chamberlain (13) of the Philadelphia Warriors lays up a shot to score over the top of the Boston Celtics defense of Bill Russell (6), Tommy Heinsohn (15), and Sam Jones (24) in the second period of their NBA game at Boston Garden, March 7, 1962. Chamberlain was held to 30 points. Boston won 153-102. (AP Photo/Bill Chaplis)

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Bill Russell shooting over Jim Krebs of the Lakers in the 1962 Finals. Despite his ability, the Celtics were often known as “Cooz’s team.”Credit…Harold P. Matosian/Associated Press

1963

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Boston Celtics rebound king, Bill Russell, shows how it’s done during their game with the New York Knicks in Boston, Mass. Feb. 11, 1963. Russell shattered the all-time career rebound record and added 19 more against the Knicks bringing his total to 11,041 during his career. Gene Conley of the Knicks is seen behind Russell and Jim Loscutoff (18) of the Celtics is in the center. Boston won 129-123. (AP Photo/Bill Chaplis)

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Bob Cousy (left), Bill Russell (right), teammates on the Boston Celtics, pose after the 1963 NBA All-Star Game. Russell won the game’s MVP award. (AP Photo)

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FILE – In this March 28, 1963, file photo, Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach, left, huddles with veteran players before a basketball game against the Cincinnati Royals in Boston. From left are coach Auerbach, Frank Ramsey, Jim Loscutoff, Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn, and captain Bob Cousy. Jim Loscutoff, a seven-time NBA champion who played his entire nine-year career with the Boston Celtics, has died. The team said in a statement that Loscutoff died Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. He was 85. The team did not disclose a cause. (AP Photo/File)

1964

'64 division title

’64 division title

Victorious Celtics smile happily with their cigar-smoking Coach “Red” Auerbach in the dressing room after defeating the Cincinnati Royals 109 to 95 and clinching their eighth straight Eastern Division playoff title at Boston Garden last night April 9, 1964. Left to right: Bill Russell, Auerbach, Tommy Heinsohn, Jim Locustoff, and K.C. Jones. (AP Photo)

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BOSTON, MA – 1964: Bill Russell #6 of the Boston Celtics goes for a block against the Philadelphia 76ers during the 1964 NBA Game at Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE/Getty Images)

1965

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Celtics coach Red Auerbach takes a shower with his clothes on as Bill Russell adds a little persuasion after Boston won its seventh consecutive NBA championship in 1965.
PHOTO: AP Photo

1966

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Bill Russell grins at the announcement that he had been named coach of the Boston Celtics basketball team, on April 18, 1966. Russell, 32, former University of San Francisco star becomes the first black coach in National Basketball (AP Photo)

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Player-coach Bill Russell (6) of the Boston Celtics sinks a hook shot against the Chicago Bulls at the Auditorium in Providence, R.I., Oct. 27, 1966. Jerry Sloan (4), Gerry Ward (6), Jim Washington (7) and Keith Erickson (15) all of the Bulls are in on the play. The Celtics won 123-100. (AP Photo/J.D. Lamontagne)

Bill Russell Boston Celtics

Bill Russell Boston Celtics

BOSTON, MA – 1966: Bill Russell #6 of the Boston Celtics grabs the rebound against the New York Knicks circa 1966 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)

1967

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Feb 1967; Unknown location, USA; FILE PHOTO; Boston Celtics center Bill Russell (6) in action against Cincinnati Royals center Connie Dierking (24) during the 1966-67 season. Mandatory Credit: Tony Tomsic-USA TODAY NETWORK

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Lew Alcindor (right), who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, alongside Bill Russell (left) and Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) in 1967. Bettmann Archive/GettyImages

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Former Cleveland Browns Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown presides over a meeting of top African-American athletes who supported boxer Muhammad Ali’s refusal to fight in Vietnam on June 4, 1967. Pictured: (front row) Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Lew Alcindor; (back row) Carl Stokes, Walter Beach, Bobby Mitchell, Sid Williams, Curtis McClinton, Willie Davis, Jim Shorter, and John Wooten. AP Photo/Tony Tomsic

1968

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Bailey Howell (18) of the Boston Celtics slaps away a shot by Tom Hawkins of the Los Angeles Lakers in the first period of their National Basketball Association playoff game at Boston Garden on April 21, 1968. Also in on the play is John Havlicek (17), Bill Russell, Sam Jones (24) of the Celtics, and Elgin Baylor of the Lakers. Boston won 107 to 101 to lead the series 1-0. (AP Photo)

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Bill Russell (6) of the Boston Celtics dribbles the ball as Mel Counts (31) of the Los Angeles Lakers attempts to break up the play in the second period of their National Basketball Association game at Boston Garden, Sunday, April 22, 1968, Boston, Mass. Boston won 107 to 101 to lead series 1-0. (AP Photo)

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BOSTON – 1968: Bill Russell #6 of the Boston Celtics defends against Wilt Chamberlain #13 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a game played in 1968 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)

1969

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Boston Celtics’ Bill Russell snares rebound from outstretched hands of Los Angeles Lakers’ Wilt Chamberlain, in the second period of their NBA playoff game at Boston Garden, April 30, 1969. Watching is Celtics’ John Havlicek. Boston won 89-88 to even the series at two games apiece. (AP Photo/Bill Chaplis)

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** FILE ** In this May 5, 1969, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers’ Wilt Chamberlain tries to shoot against Boston Celtics’ Bill Russell during an NBA basketball finals game at the Forum in Los Angeles. The Celtics and the Lakers met 10 times in the finals from 1959-87, with the Celtics winning the first eight. From 1983-87 alone, they played nearly 30 games, counting playoffs. (AP Photo/File)

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Bill Russell, left, and Emmette Bryant show their excitement as the Boston Celtics run off the floor in Los Angeles, on May 6, 1969, after winning the NBA championship title. They beat the Los Angeles Lakers for their 11th NBA title in 13 years. (AP Photo/HPM)

1973

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Bill Russell coaching the Seattle Supersonics in 1973 (Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

1987

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Former Celtics star Bill Russell talks to reporters in Sacramento after he was named the new coach of the Sacramento Kings in the NBA, April 28, 1987. (AP Photo/Walt Zeboski)

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Sacramento Kings’ new coach Bill Russell had a reason to laugh as he talked to players Michael Jackson (2) and other teammates late in the fourth quarter at Sacramento’s Arco arena in the season’s opener, going on to win 134-106, Nov. 7, 1987. (AP Photo/Walt Zeboski)

1988

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FILE – In this Jan. 15, 1988, file photo, former Boston Celtics teammates Bill Russell, Sacramento Kings coach, left, and K.C. Jones, Celtics coach, meet before the start of the Kings-Celtics NBA basketball game at the Boston Garden in Boston. Basketball Hall of Famer K.C. Jones, who won eight NBA championships as a Celtics player in the 1960s and two more as the coach of the Bostons team that took the titles in 1984 and ’86, has died. He was 88. (AP Photo/Mike Kullen, File)

1998

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Former NBA great Bill Russell (L) hands Michael Jordan (R) of the Chicago Bulls his fifth Maurice Podoloff Most Valuable Player Trophy for the 1997-98 season. (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

1999

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Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, center, is honored by his former teammates Satch Sanders, left, and K.C. Jones, right, as he is presented with two chairs from the Boston Garden during a tribute to Russell at the FleetCenter in Boston, Wednesday, May 26, 1999. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

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Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, left, shares a laugh with entertainer Bill Cosby during a tribute to Russell at the FleetCenter in Boston, Wednesday, May 26, 1999. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

2001

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Boston Celtics basketball legends Bill Russell, left, Bob Cousy, center, and Arnold “Red” Auerbach greet one another in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2001, moments before a panel discussion about race relations in sports. The event was timed to coincide with Black History Month and the 50th anniversary of the Boston Celtics’ drafting Chuck Cooper, the first black player drafted into the NBA. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

2008

Celtics 2008 championship

Celtics 2008 championship

Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce hugs Celtics Hall of Fame Center Bill Russell as the Celtics celebrate their 131-92 win over the Los Angeles Lakers to win the NBA basketball Championship in Boston, Tuesday, June 17, 2008. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Celtics 2008 championship

Celtics 2008 championship

Boston Celtics Hall of Fame center Bill Russell, left, talks with Kevin Garnett after the Celtics won the 2008 NBA basketball championship with a 131-92 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, June 17, 2008, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Bill Russell, Kevin Garnett

Bill Russell, Kevin Garnett

BOSTON – JUNE 17: Bill Russell, former Boston Celtic, celebrates with Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Six of the 2008 NBA Finals on June 17, 2008, at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics won 131-92 to capture the NBA Championship. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

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2011

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Bill Russell (right) received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2011. BLOOMBERG FILE

2012

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BOSTON, MA – APRIL 18: Celtics legends Tom “Satch” Sanders, Bill Russell, Frank Ramsey, Sam Jones, Tommy Heinsohn, Bob Cousy, and Jim Loscutoff, members of the 1962 Championship team, celebrate the 50th anniversary during halftime against the Orlando Magic on April 18, 2012, at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

2013

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(Boston, MA 11/01/13) Celtics legend Bill Russell walks past his statue on Boston City Hall Plaza on Friday, November 01, 2013, after the unveiling. Staff photo by Patrick Whittemore.

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(Boston, MA 11/01/13) Celtics legend Bill Russell acknowledges the crowd inside The State Room after the unveiling of his statue on Boston City Hall Plaza on Friday, November 01, 2013. Staff photo by Patrick Whittemore.

2014

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Former President Bill Clinton and Russell at the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library in 2014. Lauren Gerson/Wikipedia

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Feb 16, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; NBA legend Bill Russell smiles while he is being honored during the 2014 NBA All-Star Game Legends Brunch at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

2015

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Feb 5, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Retired NBA player and coach Bill Russell after the game between the Sacramento Kings and the Dallas Mavericks at Sleep Train Arena. The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Sacramento Kings 101-78. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

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February 15, 2015; New York, NY, USA; NBA legends Oscar Robertson (left) and Bill Russell (right) before the 2015 NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden.Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

2016

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BOSTON, MA – APRIL 28: Former players, Bill Russell and Tom Heinsohn watch the game between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs on April 28, 2016, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

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OAKLAND, CA – JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and NBA Legend Bill Russell are seen after defeating the Golden State Warriors in Game Seven of the 2016 NBA Finals on June 19, 2016, at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

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SPRINGFIELD, MA – SEPTEMBER 09: Shaquille O’Neal interacts with Bill Russell during the 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Symphony Hall on September 9, 2016, in Springfield, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

2017

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Bill Russell presented the Warrior’s Kevin Durant with the Bill Russell N.B.A. Finals Most Valuable Player Award on June 12 2017 in Oakland, Calif.Credit…Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

2018

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Feb 18, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Bill Russell (left) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during the 2018 NBA All-Star Game at Staples Center. Team LeBron defeated Team Stephen 148-145. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 2: Bill Russell is seen prior to a game between the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers on December 2, 2018, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

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BOSTON, MA – APRIL 28: Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics shakes hands with Bill Russell during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 30, 2018, at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

2020

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Feb 23, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Bill Russell wears a Los Angeles Lakers jersey of Kobe Bryant (24) during the game against the Boston Celtics at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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NBA star Bill Russell attends during a celebration of life for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

2021

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Nov 24, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Former Boston Celtics player Bill Russell on the sideline as the Celtics take on the Brooklyn Nets in the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

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