Death of Bill Russell, American basketball legend and civil rights defender

He was for his family “the most prolific winner in American sports history” and for former President Barack Obama ” a giant “ : Bill Russell, crowned eleven-time NBA champion with the Celtics and civil rights defender, died on Sunday July 31.

“Bill Russell, the most prolific winner in American sports history, died peacefully today at the age of 88, with his wife Jeannine at his bedside”announced his family on the Twitter account of the former player.

Upon the announcement of his death, the NBA paid tribute to the “greatest champion of all team sports”. His record is impressive and will probably never be equaled: in thirteen seasons in the NBA, all under the green jersey of the Boston Celtics, Russell won eleven league titles, a record that still stands, including eight in a row from 1959 to 1966.

Figure of American society

Although he ended his career with a very respectable average of 15.1 points per game, Russell made a name for himself thanks to his defense: from the height of his 2.08 m, he was intractable and sickened his opponents with their counters. He was also the first black American appointed to head a professional sports franchise across the Atlantic and the first to be crowned, in his second year (1967), at the head of ” his “ Celtics.

It is also outside the basketball courts that Russell has become a figure in American society, which earned him in 2011 from the hands of Barack Obama the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest American civilian honor.

“Today we lost a giant”reacted to the announcement of his death the former American president. “On the court, he was the greatest champion in basketball history. Off the pitch, he was a civil rights pioneer, marching with Doctor (Martin Luther) King and standing alongside Muhammad Ali. »

Advance the cause of civil rights

Born in 1934 in Louisiana, in a Deep South still living under a regime of racial discrimination, before moving with his family to California in the 1940s, Russell used his notoriety to advance the cause of civil rights. In 1963, he participated in Martin Luther King’s March on Washington.

“Bill stood for something much bigger than sport: the values ​​of equality, respect and inclusion that he inscribed in our league’s DNA”NBA boss Adam Silver said in a statement.

While the date of his funeral has not yet been set, his family hoped that “Each of us finds ways to speak and act Bill’s way, without compromise, with dignity and an always constructive approach.”



Style masterpieces for sale at Pebble Beach

The Peugeot 402 Special Sport Darl’mat (estimated between 1 and 1.5 million euros). Theodore W. Pieper ©2022 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

AUCTIONS – On the sidelines of the Californian Concours d’Elegance in August, auction houses are stocking up on exceptional machines.

It had to happen one day. More and more large collections, often built up during the Glorious Thirties and therefore enjoying an irrefutable pedigree, are found on the market. Proof that their owners are only the temporary custodians of their exceptional machines. In the United States, the estates of eminent collections are generally settled at Pebble Beach, as part of the annual Concours d’Elegance which brings together the greatest collectors on the planet. The 2022 edition (from August 18 to 21) is no exception to the rule.

On the shores of the Pacific, between the golf course of Pebble Beach and the picturesque village of Carmel, the largest Anglo-Saxon auction houses (Bonhams, Gooding & Company and RM Sotheby’s) will parade more than 300 cars. This year, more than any other, we had never seen so many dispersed collections. This will be an almost unique opportunity to acquire automobile “Mona Lisa”, whether by their rarity, their…

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Why the United States had never hosted a World Athletics Championships

How could the country with the most medals in the history of the world athletics championships wait almost forty years before organizing this competition on its soil? If the World Athletics Championships, the most prestigious event in this sport outside the Olympic Games, will open this Friday, July 15 on American soil, part of the explanation is to be found in the very place where the competition in Eugene, Oregon.

By hosting the world championships, the West Coast city draws a link with its past, which has always served as a laboratory for American athletics and running… until obtaining the nickname of “Track Town (the city of the track). But above all, it appears to be the only one capable of carrying an American candidacy, despite an architecture designed for the daily life of its 170,000 inhabitants more than to receive the gratin of the track, in the modest stadium of Hayward Field only renovated last year.

“We were not spoiled by the number of applications (coming from the United States) », recognized a few weeks ago Sebastian Coe, the president of World Athletics, the International Athletics Federation, questioned by the wall street journal. Because after being towed by figures like Carl Lewis until the mid-1990s, athletics arouses less and less passion across the Atlantic. Less spectacular, among other things, than basketball, and itself marred by the “Balco” doping affair in 2003, it had slipped to eighth place among the most followed sports in the United States, according to a poll by the Nielsen group three years ago.

Economic equation

The last national championships, already in Eugene, in June, were thus disputed in front of an average of 3,500 daily spectators. It is difficult, in this context, to expect large cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago or Miami to make their facilities available to the worlds. Not to mention the cultural gap between “the federative model of World Athletics and American athletics which is more a matter of school and university championships”underlines the sports historian Patrick Clastres, explaining at times the absence of the best American athletes at the worlds, likely to attract more public.

Economically too, the United States has long been held back by the headwind of sponsorship, which has been more favorable to Asia or Europe since the first championships in Helsinki in 1983. With Tokyo (Japan), officially designated Thursday July 14 to host the 2025 edition, the two continents will have hosted 13 of the 20 tournaments. “Equipment or timekeeper brands prefer to invest in less expensive world championships, to associate stars with their image without having to go through the Olympic Games”, specifies the specialist in sports geopolitics Jean-Baptiste Guégan.

Suspicions about the mode of attribution

Added to this tropism is a question about the governance of the former International Athletics Federation (IAAF), where Lamine Diack, its president from 1999 to 2015, had been sentenced to four years in prison. “for bribery”before his death in 2021. The Senegalese had always refused to award the world championship to the United States. “Many questions can arise about the attribution of the championships organized for a dozen years”, argues Jean-Baptiste Guégan, with reference to the Worlds of Beijing (China) in 2015 and Doha (Qatar), in 2019, upstream of which suspicious financial flows had circulated, benefiting for some the son of Lamine Diack.

Eugene’s case itself gave rise to suspicions of a conflict of interest. The city, which happens to be the cradle of the Nike brand, was selected in 2015 to the surprise of observers, without going through the classic award procedure and despite the candidacy of Gothenburg (Sweden). The Briton Sebastian Coe, then vice-president of the IAAF, which became World Athletics, had concentrated criticism accusing him of having supported Eugene as an ambassador for Nike, forcing him to break his contract with the American equipment manufacturer. It is true that the 2022 Worlds, postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will provide the best showcase for the comma brand for its 50th anniversary, offering it to reconnect with its origins, those of the middle-distance running, and showing off the latest models of his carbon-soled shoes.



Beijing Olympics: the United States announces a diplomatic boycott of the competition

The United States will send its athletes but no diplomatic representative to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the White House announced on Monday (December 6) despite Chinese warnings. By being present, “The American diplomatic representation would treat these Games as if nothing had happened, despite the gross human rights violations and China’s atrocities in Xinjiang. And we just can’t do that ”, justified the spokesperson for the White House, Jen Psaki.

For months, the US government had been looking for the best way to position itself with regard to the Winter Games, a popular and global event organized from February 4 to 20, 2022 by a country it accuses of perpetrating a “Genocide” against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. Several human rights organizations accuse Beijing of interning at least one million Muslims in Xinjiang in “Re-education camps”.

Chinese authorities systematically denounce “Interference” Westerners who condemn this situation, assuring that it is about “Vocational training centers” to support employment and combat religious extremism.

“A purely political decision”

With this boycott, no representative of the United States government will attend the Olympics or Paralympics, but American athletes will compete well. “The athletes of Team USA have our full support. We will be 100% behind them while we cheer them on from here ”, said Jen Psaki.

→ DEBATE. Should we boycott the Beijing Olympics?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is delighted that the boycott of Washington does not call into question the participation of American athletes. “The presence of government officials and diplomats is a purely political decision for each government, which the IOC, in its political neutrality, fully respects”, said a spokesperson for the Olympic body.

The US State Department said diplomatic staff would be present in Beijing “To assure our athletes, coaches, and those associated with the US Olympic team that they are safe”. Which represents “A different subject from official diplomatic representation”, according to spokesperson Ned Price.

“This has no impact on the success of # Beijing2022”

China had warned earlier on Monday that it would take “Firm countermeasures” if the United States called for such a boycott, calling it “Swagger”. On the night of Monday to Tuesday, Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in the United States, said politicians calling for a boycott of the Games were doing so. “For their own interests and political postures”.

→ ANALYSIS. China – United States: Xi Jinping and Joe Biden remain more rivals than ever

“In fact, no one would care whether these people come or not, and it has no impact on the success of # Beijing2022”, he wrote on Twitter. “Frankly, the Chinese are relieved to hear the news, because the fewer American officials there are, the fewer viruses there will be”, tweeted the Chinese state tabloid Global Times.