The NBA is putting on a televised award show that will be highlighted by regular-season awards, like MVP and Rookie of the Year, few people seem to care about after months of playoff basketball. Even fewer will care after the draft.
So, in an effort to drum up interest, the league is implementing fan-voted awards – and a lifetime achievement award.
The NBA and Turner today announced Bill Russell – a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and 11-time NBA Champion with the Boston Celtics – will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the first-ever NBA Awards on TNT, airing Monday, June 26, with coverage beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
Among his numerous athletic achievements, Russell was the first player to win an Olympic Gold Medal, an NBA Championship and a college title. While playing at the University of San Francisco, he led his team to back-to-back championships (1955 and 1956). A civil rights pioneer, Russell became the first African American to coach a major professional sports team (1966) and win a championship when he guided the Celtics to back-to-back titles (1968 and 1969).
One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, Russell won five NBA MVP Awards, earned 12 NBA All-Star selections and left an indelible mark as a superb shotblocker who revolutionized NBA defensive concepts. The annual NBA Finals MVP Award is named in honor of Russell, an NBA Champion in all but two of his seasons as a player with Boston.
I can’t think of a more deserving winner for this award that I hadn’t heard of until an hour ago.
No matter the agenda behind the award, Russell is a true pioneer and worthy of the recognition. There’s not a wrong time to celebrate him.