Rod Walker: Louisiana native Bill Russell left lasting impact both on and off the NBA court

Bill Russell was larger than life, his giant legacy looming even taller than his 6-foot-10 frame.

You didn’t have to actually meet him to know that.

I never met him.

All you had to do was watch how other NBA players revered him whenever he stepped foot into a place, like the two times I saw him in the Smoothie King Center sitting courtside for NBA All-Star games in 2014 and 2017.

Or you could just read the Bill Russell history book, the final page written on Sunday when one of the greatest NBA players of all time died at the age of 88.

Born in Monroe before his family moved to California when he was 8, Russell went on to produce one of the greatest résumés in basketball history.

The accomplishment that stands out the most are the 11 NBA titles (two as a coach) in 13 years, an achievement etched in our memories forever because of the iconic photo of Russell with all his rings.

When you have more rings than fingers, you’ve succeeded.

But there is more. He’s a Hall of Famer, a five-time Most Valuable Player and 12-time All-Star. In 1980, basketball writers voted him the greatest basketball player of all-time.

It didn’t matter if who you talked to was someone who played during his era or someone too young to ever see him play, he was respected by all.

The late Kobe Bryant, when asked…

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