China Mourns the Death of NBA Icon Bill Russell

Bill Russell died Sunday at age 88. A Boston Celtics legend and the only NBA player to win 11 championships, he served as the first Black head coach of any professional U.S. sports team.

Chinese NBA fans are mourning the loss of Russell. A related hashtag topped Weibo’s trending list and gained 270 million views within five hours.

“RIP legendary Russell... May heaven also have the game of basketball, which you so dearly loved” — reads one popular post on Weibo

Basketball has a long history in China. The sport was introduced to the country only four years after it was invented in 1891.

People in China have been practicing the sport ever since. Even WWII didn’t fully put the game on hold within the country.

Thanks to the NBA, China reconnected with the world through basketball after its reopening in the ’80s. A highlight of the NBA’s relationship with China was the drafting of Yao Ming in 2002.

Click ‘See More’ below for more of RADII’s coverage of the NBA in China.