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NBA’s Bill Russell collapses during Tahoe speech

Published July 18. 2014 4:00AM

Celtics officials say NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell is doing OK after collapsing during a speaking engagement near Lake Tahoe.

Team spokesman Brian Olive says the 80-year-old Russell felt faint after the Thursday morning fall at the Hyatt Regency resort in Incline Village, Nevada, but was planning on returning home to Seattle Thursday night.

Witness Michael Rooney tells The Associated Press that Russell was telling a story about Wilt Chamberlain to a roomful of Konica Minolta employees when he started to sway at the podium and then fell backward.

Rooney says Russell seemed to be conscious as hotel personnel and first responders came to his aid. The meeting was cut short and attendees left.

Russell, a five-time NBA MVP, is considered one of the best players in basketball history.

He won 11 championships in 13 years as a center with the Celtics. As a player-coach for the last two, he was the first black head coach in a major U.S. pro sport.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 and was honored last year with a statue outside Boston's City Hall.

Russell, after a standout collegiate career at the University of San Francisco, played for the Celtics from 1956-69 and played in 12 All-Star Games. He was Boston's player-coach from 1966-69.

He led the NBA in rebounding four times.

Russell also coached the Seattle SuperSonics for four seasons (1973-77) and was the coach of the Sacramento Kings in the 1987-88 season.

He was the second overall pick in the 1956 NBA Draft by the St. Louis Hawks, but was traded to the Celtics on draft day for Cliff Hagan and Ed Macauley.

- Associated Press

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