Larry Bird pens heartfelt statement following the passing of Bill Russell

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There aren't many players that have impacted the NBA and the sport of basketball quite like Larry Bird and Bill Russell.

Following Russell passing away Sunday at the age of 88, it drew an outpouring from many across the basketball community from current players like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to legends of the past like Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.

In a statement released through the Celtics' Twitter account Monday, Bird reflected on what Russell meant to him.

"I have always had tremendous respect for Bill as a man, as a player and great champion," Bird said in the statement. "I was always excited any time we were able to cross paths and spend time together. I will miss him."

The two shared a very memorable moment alongside Magic Johnson during the NBA's 50th greatest players celebration at the 1997 All-Star game. In that clip, Johnson was honoring Russell, saying that "all of the rings are right here" before Bird corrected him by saying "the majority of 'em are right here," pointing to himself and Russell -- leading to all three men bursting out with laughter.

Although Bird didn't come anywhere near the 11 titles that Russell won in the 50s and 60s, Larry legend won three NBA Championships and league MVPs all while bringing the NBA to nationwide prominence along with Johnson.

While he wasn't a prolific scorer like his rival Wilt Chamberlain was, Russell was the lynchpin for every one of those 11 rings as Bob Cousy states in an interview with the Boston Globe.

"Given what teams go through to win a Stanley Cup or a World Series or Super Bowl, they do it twice and they burn down cities and celebrate all week," Cousy said Sunday. "We did it 11 times in 13 years and Russ is the center point of that."

The late Hall of Famer won 11 rings spanning from the 50s until the end of the 60s. He set the standard in Boston while also fighting for civil rights off the court. A true icon indeed.

Follow Jasper Jones on Twitter: @jonesj2342

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