On the night of his Hall of Fame enshrinement as a coach, Bill Russell reminded everyone that his friendship with Kobe Bryant supersedes the storied rivalry between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers.

For health and safety reasons, Russell could not come to Springfield for the Hall of Fame ceremony. Still, his message via video conference hit hard, tipping his hat to the likes of Kobe Bryant, Red Auerbach, David Stern, and his wife.

Russell and Bryant’s respective eras are far from one another. The former built the league’s first dynasty, while the latter’s success in the 2000s inspired today’s generation of players. Such a huge gap hasn’t prevented the spirit of the Lakers and Celtics’ rivalry to hover above others’ minds, but these two legends are different.

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The Lakers franchise has suffered multiple defeats at the hands of Russell’s Celtics. They’ve also returned the favor a number of times.

Two of the game’s greatest champions, Russell and Bryant have both ascended to a certain basketball plateau where icons only share immense respect with each other.

Bill Russell played in the NBA from 1956 to 1969. He also took on coaching duties for the Celtics from 1966 to 1969, winning championships in 1968 and 1969. Outside of basketball, the NBA great also made tremendous contributions to the journey of attaining social justice.

Regardless of his many battles against the Lakers, fans and the organization alike hold great respect for Bill Russell. He’s arguably the most beloved icon of the game. He’s also the greatest winner of all.