Bill Russell died on Sunday afternoon and Shaquille O’Neal paid a special tribute to the NBA legend.

NBA great Bill Russell died peacefully at 88, surrounded by his wife. Since then, various renowned sports people have sent their condolences and tributes to Russell. Shaquille O’Neal is the latest to share a touching post and pay his respects to Russell. “Thank you for laying the groundwork. Legend, you will be missed, “O’Neal posted via Instagram.

Shaq’s message may have been brief, but it unmistakably fitted in light of his connection with Russell. O’Neal is regarded as one of the best big men to pick up a basketball, and few will contest him for the title. Bill Russell is one of them. What the 11-time NBA champion accomplished on the basketball floor is unparalleled. Even Shaq would probably agree that no one is greater than Russell — not even himself.

O’Neal and Russell have 15 NBA Championships between them (four for O’Neal, 11 for Russell) and six NBA MVP awards (five for Russell, one for O’Neal).

Russell played 13 seasons for the Boston Celtics until retiring at the end of the 1968-69 season. He had previously won two NCAA Championships with San Francisco.

Shaq was not the first Lakers legend to tribute Russell following his death. Magic Johnson also delivered a lengthy and heartfelt note to his old adversary turned close friend. Russell received nothing but praise from Magic. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss also urged for harmony among LA and Boston fans as they prepare to commemorate a sports hero.

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"Thank you for paving the way" - Shaquille O'Neal pays tribute to the late Bill Russell with throwback magazine cover 2

Shaquille O’Neal also resurrected a 1993 Reebok ad in honor of the late great Bill Russell. Shaquille O’Neal appears in the advertisement alongside NBA luminaries Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Bill Walton.

Shaq shared the ad on his Instagram stories to commemorate his first recollections with the Celtics star as the NBA world mourns the shocking news of Russell’s death.

Shaq is shown in the promo as attempting to join an exclusive club of NBA superstars. “Don’t fake the funk on a nasty dunk,” is the password.

Meanwhile, Bill Russell informs Shaq, “You’re early.” “I’m ready,” Shaq says in answer.

“Then prove it,” Russell responds quickly.

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