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Bill Russell Is Hailed by Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Other N.B.A. Greats

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Bill Russell had more N.B.A. championship rings than he had fingers and as many Most Valuable Player Awards as all other Boston Celtics players combined.

But in the hours after Russell’s family announced his death on Sunday, N.B.A. players remembered him as so much more.

Legend. Trailblazer. “Everything we all aspired to be,” Isiah Thomas, the Hall of Fame point guard from the Detroit Pistons, said in a post on Twitter.

Russell, 88, spent 13 seasons with the Celtics in the 1950s and 1960s, including three as a player-coach. He was the first Black coach in the N.B.A., and he was known for his civil rights activism during and after his playing days. He has remained visible around the N.B.A. as a fan, mentor and symbol of greatness. The finals M.V.P. trophy is named after him, and he would often attend games wearing a purple hat with the initials of one of his favorite players, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in 2020.

Players across basketball generations hailed him on Sunday.

From the 1980s, there were Thomas and another Hall of Fame point guard, Magic Johnson of the Lakers.

“Bill Russell was my idol,” Johnson said on Twitter, citing Russell’s basketball talent and position on the “front line fighting for social justice.”

He continued: “Despite all of his achievements, he was so humble, a gentle giant, a very intelligent man, and used his voice and platform to fight for Black people.”

Michael Jordan, who dominated the 1990s with the Chicago Bulls, said in a statement that Russell was a “pioneer.”

“He paved the way and set an example for every Black player who came into the league after him, including me,” Jordan said. “The world has lost a legend.”

Notable players from the 2000s also spoke of Russell with reverence and a warmth that showed the Celtics icon’s lasting influence in the league.

“I can go on all day about what u meant to me,” Paul Pierce, the Celtics Hall of Famer, said in a tweet.

Pierce, too, called Russell a “pioneer” and “trailblazer.” He also mentioned his “great laugh” and shared a picture of Russell talking with Pierce and other N.B.A. players. “I’ll never forget this day we was like kids sitting around a camp fire listening to your stories,” Pierce wrote.

Pau Gasol, whose Lakers faced Pierce in the finals twice, shared a picture on Twitter of himself with Russell, calling him “one of the most dominant players in @NBA history.”

“I’ll forever be honored to have met you,” he said.

Players from the 2010s and present day also pointed to Russell’s humor, activism and basketball skill.

Noting on Twitter that there was no 3-point line or social media during Russell’s heyday, Celtics guard Marcus Smart posted a list of Russell’s accomplishments.

“Just played and dominated in a day and a league that was def not soft,” Smart said.

Smart’s teammate Jaylen Brown shared a photo of Russell with Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jim Brown in 1967, when a group of Black athletes were showing support for Ali’s refusal to fight in the Vietnam War.

Calling Russell “one of the greatest athletes ever,” Brown said: “Thank you for paving the way and inspiring so many Today is a sad day but also great day to celebrate his legacy and what he stood for.”

In recent years, N.B.A. players — Brown included — have more prominently carried on Russell’s legacy of civil rights activism. Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, who was the president of the players’ union during its social justice efforts after George Floyd’s murder in 2020, also posted about Russell on Twitter on Sunday.

“Unapologetically himself at all times!! The ultimate leader and just happened to be one of the best hoopers ever! RIP Mr Russell, you will be dearly missed,” he wrote.



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Outside the stadium, a get-well message for Pelé, who is back in the hospital.

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AL RAYYAN, Qatar — The Torch hotel outside Khalifa Stadium has a message on its side tonight sending well wishes to Pelé, the three-time World Cup winner from Brazil who has been battling cancer.

A Brazilian newspaper reported that Pelé, 82, was no longer responding to chemotherapy treatments and had been moved to palliative care, suggesting he would no longer take aggressive measures to fight his cancer.

The report did not suggest that his death was imminent; such scares have been common in recent years each time Pelé, one of the world’s most famous sportsmen, has entered the hospital for treatment.

Pelé’s own Instagram account attempted to push back on the most recent reports this week that noted he was back in the hospital.

“Friends, I am at the hospital making my monthly visit,” said a message under a different photo of him on a building in Doha. “It’s always nice to receive positive messages like this. Thanks to Qatar for this tribute, and to everyone who sends me good vibes!”

Pelé’s daughter Kely Nascimento had said on Instagram earlier this week that there was “no surprise or emergency” in her father’s condition.

“Lots of alarm in the media today concerning my dad’s health,” Nascimento wrote at the time. “There is no emergency or new dire prediction. I will be there for New Year’s and promise to post some pictures.”



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Christian Pulisic back in lineup for USMNT against Netherlands at World Cup

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Christian Pulisic will be in the starting lineup for the U.S. Men’s National Team for its World Cup knockout-round showdown Saturday against the Netherlands in Qatar.

Pulisic, who was taken to a local hospital during Tuesday’s 1-0 group-stage victory over Iran with a pelvic injury after scoring the Americans’ lone goal to advance as the second-place finisher in Grouo B, had been medically cleared to play on Friday.

Christian Pulisic is back in the U.S. starting lineup Saturday against the Netherlands.
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Follow all the 2022 World Cup action with more from the New York Post


Pulisic suffered a pelvic injury in the United States' 1-0 win over Iran earlier this week.
Pulisic suffered a pelvic injury in the United States’ 1-0 win over Iran earlier this week.
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Striker Josh Sargent suffered an ankle injury in the second half of that match and will be replaced in the U.S. starting XI by forward Jesus Ferreira. He will be making his first appearance of the tournament.

Center back Walker Zimmerman, who didn’t start against  Iran but came on as a sub in the second half, also was reinstated in coach Gregg Berhalter’s lineup, in place of Cameron Carter-Vickers. Zimmerman cleared a ball approaching the goal line that had gotten past goalie Matt Turner late in stoppage time to preserve the win.

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The U.S. women’s team has won millions at the men’s World Cup.

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The United States women’s soccer team, a four-time World Cup champion, is winning at the men’s World Cup, too.

Thanks to new labor agreements reached with U.S. Soccer that guarantee a split of prize money won by the country’s national teams, the women will receive an equal share in the prize money from the performance of the U.S. men in Qatar. How much money? At least $6 million to date, or more than the combined prizes the women’s team collected for their 2019 World Cup victory in France ($4 million prize) and their 2015 title in Canada ($2 million).

In September, the U.S. women’s and men’s teams formally signed new collective bargaining agreements with landmark terms: For the first time, U.S. Soccer guaranteed the players will receive equal pay for competing in international matches and competitions, which had been one of the most contentious issues facing the teams and the federation in recent years.

That means the women’s national team will also benefit from the men’s advancement at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, in figures that a spokesperson for the women’s team said the players are still digesting — but that have given the women’s team, and its predecessors, a sense of accomplishment and advancement in a decades-long pursuit of equity in the sport.

“The women have done their work — four World Cups, four Olympic gold medals — to bring high visibility, and I mean high visibility, to the sport of soccer in this country, which needed it for a long time,” said Briana Scurry, a goalkeeper for the Americans’ 1999 World Cup-winning team. “Now the men, once again, it’s their turn and they’re showing incredibly well.”

FIFA previously announced that the total prize pool for the World Cup in Qatar would be $440 million, including $42 million for the winning team. For advancing to the knockout stage of the tournament, after a 1-0 tense win over Iran, the team stands to earn at least $13 million. A win against the Netherlands on Saturday could raise that figure to at least $17 million.

Under the new agreements, 90 percent of World Cup prize money will be pooled and shared equally between the players on the 2022 men’s World Cup roster and the 2023 Women’s World Cup roster, in a historic move that is unique only to the United States among top soccer-playing nations.

The sharing is reciprocal: When the women defend their World Cup title at the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, any earnings will be split with the men’s team.

“These agreements have changed the game forever here in the United States and have the potential to change the game around the world,” the U.S. Soccer President, Cindy Parlow Cone, said in a statement when the agreements were reached in May.

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