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WAMC Sports Report: NBA great Bill Russell dead at 88

Bill Russell with longtime Boston Celtics head coach Red Auerbach. When Auerbach retired he named Russell to take his place, making him the first Black head coach in the NBA.
Bill Chaplis
Bill Russell with longtime Boston Celtics head coach Red Auerbach. When Auerbach retired he named Russell to take his place, making him the first Black head coach in the NBA.

NBA great Bill Russell has died at age 88. His family said on social media that Russell died on Sunday. The statement did not give the cause of death, but Russell was not well enough to present the NBA Finals MVP trophy in June due to a long illness.

Russell lived a life that was full even when his many basketball accomplishments aren't factored into his story. The greatest winner in the history of team sports was a civil rights champion. He loved telling stories. Had an appreciation for music and fast cars. He climbed mountains. Loved the outdoors. He could opine intelligently on just about any topic. Russell died Sunday at 88. His basketball exploits were legendary. Yet he always made sure to say playing the game was just what he did, and that being a basketball star wasn't who he was.

Russell anchored a Boston Celtics dynasty that won 11 titles in 13 years. His last two were as the first Black head coach in any major U.S. sport. Russell was a Hall of Famer, five-time MVP and 12-time All-Star. He won with defense and rebounding and waged battles with Wilt Chamberlain. Russell also marched for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr. and stood with boxer Muhammad Ali when he refused military induction.


In Interleague play, the Boston Red Sox beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-2 at Fenway Park.

Meanwhile, in the American League, the Kansas City Royals got by the New York Yankees 8-6.

In the National League, the NY Mets crushed the Miami Marlins 9-3, and the Philadelphia Phillies trounced the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-2

MLB Trade Deadline

When Juan Soto turned down a $440 million, 15-year deal to stay with the Washington Nationals, it ensured Tuesday’s trade deadline would have a little juice. It’s shaping up to be a memorable one, with MLB’s expanded postseason helping nearly 20 teams remain in contention. The Soto sweepstakes could include even more bidders than that. The 23-year-old is a two-time All-Star, a Home Run Derby champion, a World Series winner and famously one of the most difficult at-bats in baseball. Pry him away from the Nationals, and a club could enjoy 2 ½ seasons of Soto and his signature batter’s box shuffle before he can test free agency.

Angels starter Reid Detmers became the first rookie pitcher with a no-hitter and an immaculate inning in the same season, achieving the latter against the Texas Rangers on Sunday. The Rangers matched the 1979 San Francisco Giants as the only lineups to have three immaculate innings thrown against them in a season. Houston got Texas for two immaculate innings in the same game June 15. Detmers, who pitched a no-hitter against Tampa Bay on May 10, struck out three Texas hitters on nine pitches in the second inning for the 109th immaculate inning in baseball history.


A decision on discipline for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson following accusations of sexual misconduct is coming Monday. Two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that retired judge Sue L. Robinson has informed the NFL and the NFL Players’ Association she’s ready to issue a ruling on Watson’s disciplinary hearing that concluded a month ago. Watson was accused of sexual harassment and assault by 24 massage therapists in Texas and has settled 20 of the civil lawsuits filed against him. Four lawsuits remain pending and the attorney representing the women has said he hopes to take them to trial sometime next spring. However, Watson agreed to settle three of the four, Houston attorney Tony Buzbee told ESPN early Monday.

The story of a 5-foot-9 NFL linebacker nicknamed “Field Mouse” will be featured in Canton, Ohio, this weekend when the late Sam Mills is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mills played Division III college football and was not drafted. That made his rise to stardom with the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers all the more remarkable. Jim Mora was Mills' head coach in the USFL and in New Orleans. Mora says those who saw Mills as an overachiever missed the fact that he “was just that good.” Mills was Carolina assistant coach when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2003. That season he coined the Panthers' motto, “Keep pounding."

PGA Tour

Tony Finau ran away with the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Sunday at Detroit Golf Club to become the first PGA Tour player in three years to win consecutive regular-season events. Finau closed with a 5-under 67 for a five-shot victory and a tournament-record 26-under 262 total. Taylor Pendrith, Patrick Cantlay and rookie of the year front-runner Cameron Young tied for second. Finau coasted to his fourth career victory, a third title in 11-plus months. He was the 3M Open winner last week in Minnesota, where he rallied from five strokes back to win by three. Brendon Todd was the last to win two straight in the regular season, doing it in 2019.

LIV Golf

Two weeks after Henrik Stenson was stripped of his Ryder Cup captaincy for Europe, he's a winner in his debut on the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series. The Swede got large and immediate returns. He shot 69 at Trump National. He won by two shots over Dustin Johnson and Matthew Wolf. And the payoff for Stenson was $4 million for the individual win, and $375,000 for his team finishing second. Dustin Johnson now has three top 10s in three event and already has made just over $5.2 million. The LIV Golf series doesn't return until the first weekend in September.


Tyler Reddick closed the best month of his NASCAR career with a victory in overtime on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He broke through for his first career victory on July 3 with a win at Road America in Wisconsin and announced nine days later he was leaving Richard Childress Racing in 2024 to drive for Michael Jordan's team. His second win in five races made Reddick the first Childress driver since Kevin Harvick in 2013 to win multiple races in a season. Austin Cindric finished second in a Ford for track owner Roger Penske and was followed by fellow rookies Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland, who both had career-best finishes.