NEW ORLEANS — Celtics legend Bill Russell, who turned 80 Wednesday, was honored during Sunday’s All-Star Game with a touching tribute from other league legends as well as the current All-Stars.
Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon and Julius Erving were introduced at midcourt following the first quarter at Smoothie King Center. Johnson then took the mic and asked fans to sing “Happy Birthday” to Russell, who was sitting courtside. Following a standing ovation and singing for Russell, Johnson called for the Western Conference All-Stars led by Kobe Bryant, and Eastern Conference All-Stars, led by LeBron James, to walk over and shake Russell’s hand.
The scene was reminiscent to major league baseball all-stars greeting Ted Williams before the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park.
Russell raised his hand in acknowledgment. He was also honored at the Legends Brunch earlier Sunday.