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Basketball great Bill Russell collapses during speech near Tahoe; Celtics spokesman says OK

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INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - Celtics officials say NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell is doing OK after collapsing during a speaking engagement near Lake Tahoe.

Team spokesman Brian Olive says the 80-year-old Russell felt faint after the Thursday morning fall at the Hyatt Regency resort in Incline Village, Nevada, but was planning on returning home to Seattle this evening.

Witness Michael Rooney tells The Associated Press that Russell was telling a story about Wilt Chamberlain to a roomful of Konica Minolta employees when he started to sway at the podium and then fell backward.

Rooney says Russell seemed to be conscious as hotel personnel and first responders came to his aid. The meeting was cut short and attendees left.

Russell, a five-time NBA MVP, is considered one of the best players in basketball history.

He won 11 championships in 13 years as a centre with the Celtics. As a player-coach for the last two, he was the first black head coach in a major U.S. pro sport.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 and was honoured last year with a statue outside Boston's City Hall.

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