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NBA great Bill Russell collapses during speech

July 17, 2014

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nevada (AP) — NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell was OK after collapsing during a speaking engagement near Lake Tahoe on Thursday, the Boston Celtics said.

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

Witness Michael Rooney told 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 fell backward.

Russell seemed to be conscious as hotel personnel and first responders came to his aid, Rooney said. 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.

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