NBA legend Bill Russell was more than an athlete. During his career, and even well after his retirement, the man made it a point to stand up and speak out about issues he held near and dear.
For former NBA big man Charles Barkley, that fearless aspect of Russell's character is the biggest part of what made him so great and impactful both in the basketball community and outside of it.
Upon hearing the news of his death, Chuck issued the following statement:
"Bill Russell's passing is not just an NBA loss, it's a world loss. When your actions, match your words on important issues, you are a great man, not just a great basketball player. The word 'hero' is tossed around a lot, but today it is perfect. RIP great man BR."
There is no doubt that the world lost an icon today. Bill Russell exemplified many of the values we strive to maintain every day, and he will be an example for people to follow for generations to come.
"Bill Russell was a pioneer - as a player, as a champion, as the NBA's first Black head coach and as an activist," said Michael Jordan. "He paved the way and set an example for every Black player who came into the league after him, including me. The world has lost a legend. My condolences to his family and may he rest in peace."
Unlike a lot of celebrities today, Russell didn't mince words when it came to controversial topics or particular issues that he deemed important. He stood for equality, he stood for freedom, and he stood for loving others in even the worst of times.
He was truly an admirable star, and the NBA was lucky to have him as a part of its brand. Charles Barley was just one of many who looked up to him and celebrated his amazing career.