Bill Russell Collapses During Speech, Doing Just Fine
Boston Celtics officials confirmed that NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell is doing OK after collapsing during a speaking engagement on Thursday morning (July 17) near Lake Tahoe.
Team spokesman Brian Olive says Russell, 80, felt faint after the fall at the Hyatt Regency resort in Incline Village. Hotel personnel and first responders came to his aid, and the legendary center was escorted to a local hospital on a stretcher as a precaution, according to ESPN.
Onlookers, including witness Michael Rooney, were shocked to see Russell collapse. Rooney tells The Associated Press that the 11-time NBA champion was telling a story about fellow great Wilt Chamberlain to a roomful of Konica Minolta employees when he began to sway at the podium before falling backwards.
Russell, who was expected to fly back to his Seattle-area home as early as Thursday night, seemed to be conscious as he was taken off the premises. The meeting was cut short and attendees left.
Along with championship rings, Russell’s list of accomplishments — other than being considered an all-time great — includes five NBA MVPs during his 13-year career, a place in the NBA Hall of Fame since 1975, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a statue outside of Boston’s City Hall, which he was honored with in 2013. Additionally, he’s respected for the strides he made and all he endured as a Black star player in a league then dominated by whites. Russel later became the first Black coach in a major U.S. sport.
At the moment, it’s unclear what caused Russell to collapse.