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Bill Russell, a superior athlete and civil rights activist

Bill Russell had more rings than he had fingers, and a cluster of awards to fill the walls of his entire house. But awards and statistics tell only a portion of this NBA Hall of Famer, who died peacefully Sunday, according to a statement from his family. He was 88. 

One line in the statement from his family spoke volumes about his achievements: he was the most prolific winner in American sports history. They were making reference to Russell’s incomparable 11 NBA titles with the Boston Celtics, eight of them consecutively, thereby surpassing the New York Yankees’ five straight World Series championships; and the Montreal Canadiens’ five straight Stanley Cup titles.

 Few could speak with absolute authority of Russell’s prowess like Red Auerbach, his coach and mentor. For him Russell was “the single most devastating force in the history of the game.” There is a long list of numbers to back up this comment, including five-time NBA MVP and...

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