“RIP GOAT!!!!!”: Boxing World Mourns NBA Legend’s Death as Bill Russell & Muhammad Ali’s Old Photo Graces the Internet

Published 08/01/2022, 8:37 AM EDT

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Bill Russell, the legendary basketball player and “the most prolific winner in American Sports History”, passed away on July 31st, Sunday. During his 13-year-career, Russell was a five-time NBA MVP, twelve-time NBA All-Star, and eleven-time NBA Champion playing for the Boston Celtics. Apart from his vigorous achievements in the NBA, Russell won the NCAA Championship for two consecutive years and an Olympic gold medal in 1956.

After the demise of Bill Russell and following the resurfacing of an old photo of Russell and Muhammad Ali, fans took the center stage and shared their personal memories of and respect for the late centerpiece.


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Here are a few reactions that we found were worth sharing.

Muhammad Ali vs. the greatest center of all time: Fans react to an old image of Muhammad Ali sparring with Bill Russell

In 2010, then-President Barack Obama honored Bill Russell with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his participation and achievements in the civil rights movement that spanned from 1954 to 1968. Russell resisted racism and, under various circumstances, voiced himself against discrimination faced by him and fellow black athletes. It was during the Black Athlete movement in 1967 that he came in close touch with ‘The Double Greatest’ Muhammad Ali.


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Otis Starghill shared his first memory of Bill Russell when the latter had just signed with the Celtics. According to Starghill’s comment, it was also the first time he heard about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He described the duo as “two of the greatest men that ever walked on this earth.” 

Despite his son’s opinion of Michael Jordan being considered the greatest athlete of all time, Vincent Garcia felt Ali and Russell were far greater than Jordan. In his opinion, “Ali and Russell risked everything in the face of total loss.” It was not just about their unparallel physical talents, but about utilizing those talents to change the world.

Sam Haywood commented, “The G.O.A.T. versus the G.C.OA.T, (greatest center of all time).”


Like everyone else, John W Davis mourned the demise of his first and only hero in life. He wrote, “Bill Russell was my hero since 1966!!! RIP GOAT!!!!!”

And finally, Kia Denape left with a heartwarming comment to read. “The good guys with love in their hearts and a mission on their minds.”


The official Instagram page of Ali pays homage to the ever-shining star

Taking to their story, the official Instagram account of Muhammad Ali shared a post by Sports Illustrated. Sports Illustrated initially captioned the post as “Bill Russell, an 11-time NBA champion and one of the greatest players of all time, has died at 88 years old.” 



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The community of sports and those who believed in the true liberation of the spirit will remember Bill Russell. His words and his path will live on and in them will the fans find courage, and the heart to resist and dare to challenge.


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What is your favorite memory of Bill Russell? Let us know in the comments below.



Written by:

Samrat Sardar


One take at a time

Samrat Sardar is a Boxing writer at EssentiallySports and is currently a final year undergraduate student of English literature. A passionate content creator, he has been writing since his high school days, and possesses work experience as a commercial writer for companies such as WordsKraft among others. Samrat believes he fell in love with boxing the day he watched Vasiliy Lomachenko share the ring with Guillermo Rigondeaux.
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Edited by:

Ajinkya Aswale