He was the greatest.
A legend in the ring and a man who stood up for what he believed outside of it, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74. He was a transcendent figure in sports, and someone beloved and admired by those around the NBA, as he was by people worldwide.
“Muhammad Ali transcended sports with his outsized personality and dedication to civil rights and social justice,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Friday in a statement. “He was an inspirational presence at several major NBA events and was deeply admired by so many throughout the league. While we are deeply saddened by his loss, Muhammad Ali’s legacy lives on in every athlete who takes a stand for what he or she believes.”
Numerous NBA players chimed in as well.
“It’s what he did outside of the ring, what he believed in, what he stood for, along with Jim Brown and Oscar Robertson, Lew Alcindor — obviously who became Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] — Bill Russell, Jackie Robinson. Those guys stood for something. He’s part of the reason why African-Americans today can do what we do in the sports world. We’re free. They allow us to have access to anything we want. It’s because of what they stood for, and Muhammad Ali was definitely the pioneer for that….
“People forget what you did as a professional. People forget the championships and all the other things you were able to accomplish. But they will never forget how you made them feel. That’s a Maya Angelou quote, but I’ll transcend that into what Muhammad Ali was able to do. So it’s very important.”
View this post on Instagram
Muhammad Ali and I share the same birthday and that alone made me feel I had purpose. Yes, he was a great boxer, the greatest of all but as a courageous humanitarian, that is where his brilliance spoke loudest to me. He made me believe I could become HIM. I could be my own man, use my own voice, stand up for my beliefs AND be respected for what I do on my battle field which is the court. He was strong, proud and vocal… a black man who lead by words and action. Misunderstood and unappreciated for most of his life. Thanks for standing for all but especially your own. It was always my honor to be in his presence and I am a better man for it. #RIPALI