The NBA world lost one of its greatest legends recently when Bill Russell passed away at the age of 88. Tributes poured in for the Celtics great, lauding him for his achievements on the court and also for his many struggles fighting for civil rights off of it. Russell was celebrated by the league as well, with his No. 6 jersey being retired across all teams in the league.
The nature of life is such that it moves on, with other topics coming to the forefront in the NBA world, but many are still talking about and celebrating Russell as the icon that he was. Stephen Curry has become the latest to pay homage to everything that he did, giving a heartfelt tribute to Russell in an interview with Essence.
"Neither one of us is sitting here if he didn't do what he did in his career," Curry said. "Not just because of what he did in basketball, but in terms of the times that he played in. The hatred, the racism, the adversity, facing it his entire life, and especially during his playing days.
"Had he not been the man that he was and pushed through everything he had to, I don't know if the NBA is in the space it is. It had trickle-down effects to the rest of the basketball world. So, we're all eternally grateful for who he is and was, what he meant to the game, and what he meant to society."
The problems resulting from systemic racism are things that people deal with even today, so the struggle is far from over. But thanks to the efforts of many, like Bill Russell, the situation is a lot better than it used to be back in the day. It is up to the likes of Curry and his fellow superstars to carry on the torch, though, and they will surely do all they can to ensure that.