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Bill Russell collapses during speech; Celtics report he's OK

Bill Russell collapses during speech; Celtics report he's OK
Hall of Famer Bill Russell presents Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard with the NBA Finals MVP award last month. (Larry W. Smith / EPA)

Bill Russell, the Boston Celtics Hall of Fame center, collapsed during a speaking engagement Thursday morning at a resort at Lake Tahoe, where he is reportedly conscious and preparing to return to his home in the Seattle area.

Russell, 80, was speaking to employees of Konica Minolta at the Hyatt Regency in Incline Village when he reportedly began to sway at the podium and then fell to the floor while telling a story about NBA rival Wilt Chamberlain.

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According to witness reports, Russell fell backward from the podium but he was conscious when emergency personnel and hotel staff tended to him. He was taken to a local hospital as a precautionary measure, according to reports.

Konica Minolta employee Christopher Martin took to Twitter after Russell's collapse.

"Prayers for Bill Russell, he just collapsed on stage while speaking to our company," Martin tweeted.

Various media outlets in Boston as well as the Associated Press reported that the Celtics said Russell is "OK" and was feeling faint after the fall.

Russell, who was selected most valuable player of the NBA five times, led the Celtics to 11 NBA championships in a 13-season span. He became the first black coach in a major pro sport when he led Boston to the last two titles as a player-coach. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975.

Russell, a graduate of McClymonds High in Oakland, led the University of San Francisco to NCAA titles in 1955 and '56.

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