Ex-Celtics great Russell accepts HOF ring after 44 years

FILE PHOTO: Former Boston Celtic great Bill Russell attends the funeral for former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino in Boston, Massachusetts November 3, 2014. Menino, the longest-serving mayor in Boston history who led the city after the 2013 marathon bombing, died on Thursday at age 71 from cancer, his family said in a statement. REUTERS/Boston Globe/John Tlumacki/Pool

Former Boston Celtics great Bill Russell announced Friday he accepted his Hall of Fame ring 44 years after his induction.

Widely considered one of the NBA’s all-time great centers, Russell did not attend his 1975 induction ceremony in Springfield, Mass., saying via Twitter that he didn’t deserve to be the first black player inducted.

“I felt others before me should have that honor,” he tweeted Friday.

One of those players was Chuck Cooper, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in September. In 1950, the former Boston Celtics forward became the first African-American player to play in the NBA.

Russell said he received the ring in a private ceremony that was attended by fellow Hall of Famers Ann Meyers, Alonzo Mourning and Bill Walton.

Russell was a five-time league Most Valuable Player and led the Celtics to 11 NBA titles — including eight consecutive — between 1956-69. He also was a two-time Olympic gold medalist and led the University of San Francisco to two NCAA championships.

—Field Level Media

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