All-Star players pay tribute to Bill Russell, wish him happy 80th birthday

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NEW ORLEANS — That was maybe the best moment from the All-Star Game — legendary former players such as Dr. J and Magic Johnson honored Celtics legend Bill Russell, who turned 80 this week. The crowd sang happy birthday to the 11-time NBA champion and then the players took time to shake his hand and honor him.

It was a touching moment.

“I thought that was one of the more special moments in All Star history,” West coach Scott Brooks said. “You’re talking about one of the greatest winners of all sports. What he exemplified is just what you want your team to be: Teamwork, about the team, about the city. Just an amazing player. That was a great moment to watch that all of our guys really honored him, and rightfully so.”

Carmelo Anthony agreed.

“First of all, this was by far one of the most memorable All Star Weekends, All Star Games honoring Bill Russell, Magic and them guys, getting the whole arena to sing happy birthday to him, and then the game. All of that played into tonight’s game,” Anthony said after the East win. “It was a great atmosphere. It was good for us to be a part of that celebration. Bill Russell was one of them guys who paved the way for guys like myself and the guys that was out there. So it was just great to be a part of tonight.”