Bill Russell finally accepted his Basketball Hall of Fame ring.
The 11-time NBA champion, five-time MVP, Olympic gold medalist and two-time NCAA champ said on Twitter on Friday that he was presented with his Hall of Fame ring in a private ceremony.
The 85-year-old Boston Celtics great didn’t attend the induction ceremony in 1975. He said he didn’t deserve to be the first black player inducted, tweeting: “I felt others before me should have that honor.”
His tweet mentions Chuck Cooper, who in 1950 was the first African-American player drafted by the NBA and who was inducted this year.
Russell said the ceremony was attended by his wife, along with close friends and Hall of Famers Bill Walton, Ann Meyers and Alonzo Mourning.
Defending champion Alexander Zverev secured the last semifinal spot at the ATP Finals on Friday, eliminating Rafael Nadal in the process.
Zverev beat already eliminated Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 7-6 (4) at the O2 Arena to finish second behind Stefanos Tsitsipas in the group and set up a semifinal against Dominic Thiem.
Earlier, Nadal stayed in contention by rallying to beat Tsitsipas 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5 for his second win of the round-robin stage.
But Zverev’s win left him, Nadal, and Tsitispas with identical 2-1 records — with the top-ranked Spaniard eliminated based on the tournament’s tiebreaker rules.
It means only one of tennis’ Big Three made the semifinals as Novak Djokovic was also eliminated on Thursday. Tsitsipas will face six-time champion Roger Federer in the first semifinal on Saturday.
“The young guys have been playing much better tennis than they were maybe last year," Zverev said. “Nobody expected (Nadal) to be out from our group. Our group was very, very difficult, and for me and Stefanos to qualify, I don’t think a lot of people would have picked (that).”
Medvedev (0-3) had only pride to play for against Zverev and was broken in the opening game. The Russian largely held his own after that but couldn’t force a single break point and double-faulted to go 5-3 down in the second-set tiebreaker.
Zverev converted his first match point with an ace.
The seventh-ranked German had a major breakthrough in winning last year’s tournament, beating Federer in the semifinals and Djokovic in the final. He’ll come up against Thiem, who impressed by beating those same two players in the group phase this week.
“He’s playing unbelievable tennis, and it’s going to be a very difficult match,” Zverev said. “Honestly, I'm just happy to be in the semis, and from here on we'll just see how it goes.”
Tsitsipas had already secured a semifinal spot by winning his opening two matches but still pushed Nadal to the wire in a match that lasted nearly three hours.
That effort could cost him against Federer, who needed only 1 hour, 13 minutes to beat Novak Djokovic in his final group-stage match on Thursday and spent Friday resting up.
But at 21, Tsitsipas is 17 years younger than Federer, and said he felt confident he’ll recover quickly.
“It’s OK, my body feels well currently,” Tsitsipas said. ”I don't feel pain anywhere. I feel fresh, honestly. After having a long, difficult match like this, I feel like I can go out and play tomorrow the same way. So I don't have any problem with that.”
After saving a match point at 5-1 down in the third set against Medvedev on Wednesday before rallying to win, Nadal’s comeback wasn’t quite as dramatic this time.
He never faced a break point in the match but lost the last three points of the first-set tiebreaker to hand Tsitsipas the lead.
But he broke for a 5-3 lead in the second set and again to make it 6-5 in the third, then converted his first match point when Tsitsipas netted a forehand.
After the match, Nadal was presented with a trophy on court for having secured the year-end No. 1 ranking.
Djokovic’s chances of overtaking him ended when he was eliminated with the loss to Federer.
It’s the fifth time that the 19-time Grand Slam winner ends the year atop the rankings, tied for second on the all-time list with Djokovic, Federer and Jimmy Connors. Pete Sampras did it six times.
At 33, Nadal is the oldest man to finish the year as No. 1.
“Honestly, after all the things that I went through in my career in terms of injuries, I never thought that at the age of 33 1/2, I would have this trophy in my hands again,” Nadal said.
However, he has never won the ATP Finals despite qualifying for a 15th year in a row. He has had to pull out of the tournament on six occasions because of injuries and reached the final only twice, the last time in 2013.
Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc dominated practice at Interlagos on Friday for the Brazilian Grand Prix, giving Ferrari some relief after a poor race in the United States this month.
Vettel clocked the fastest lap of the day in the afternoon session, and Leclerc was only 0.021 seconds behind.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas had the third and fourth quickest laps.
Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes finished the day fifth, 0.223 seconds behind Vettel.
“The car was decent today, but we can improve. I am confident of a step forward,” Vettel said. “There are a lot of small things (to adjust) and we need to make sure we nail those.”
The four-time world champion was sure the other teams will be faster in Sunday’s race.
Ferrari vigorously celebrated its drivers after practice. The first day of racing at Interlagos marked a recovery somewhat for the team after a poor United States GP this month, when Leclerc finished almost a minute behind race winner Bottas and Vettel retired early.
The encouraging practices at Interlagos also helped Ferrari to answer Verstappen’s accusation that it was “cheating” in the making of its engine.
The Red Bull driver suggested on Dutch TV that Ferrari’s performance dipped in the U.S. because of a FIA directive on fuel flow systems.
Vettel had already called Verstappen’s comments “not professional” and “not mature,” and on Friday — without naming the Dutch driver — he added they were “sad.”
“The main thing for us is to focus on ourselves and hopefully give the right answer on the track,” Vettel said.
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto said the directive had no impact on the team’s engine.
Verstappen avoided the controversy with Ferrari and called his team’s practices at the Brazilian GP “messy” due to weather conditions.
“Today is not really representative with the temperatures,” Verstappen said. “I can’t really tell where we are exactly, but I also don’t think it matters a lot. Tomorrow will be different.”
Thai driver Alexander Albon was the fastest in the morning practice in the rain. His Red Bull was half a second ahead of Bottas until he crashed on the final corner and the session was suspended. Albon was unharmed.
The Brazilian GP on Sunday is the penultimate race of the season. Hamilton secured the season title, his sixth, in the previous race in the U.S.
Santi Cazorla scored his first goal in four years for Spain to help crush Malta 7-0 in a European Championship qualifier on Friday.
Cazorla returned to Spain in May in a surprising call-up. The 34-year-old former Arsenal playmaker hadn’t played for his country since 2015 due to a string of serious injuries that threatened his career.
But Cazorla has played well since his return to the field with Spanish club Villarreal and is becoming an important piece of Robert Moreno’s squad for Euro 2020.
“What Santi’s achieving, his form, after what he went through for nearly three years with his terrible injury problems, is exceptional,” Moreno said. “Without guys like him and Raúl (Albiol) and Sergio (Ramos) it’s hard to win tournament semifinals and finals.”
Spain qualified for the tournament in October, so the match against lowly Malta was a great chance for Moreno to give some young players their opportunity.
Debutants Pau Torres and Dani Olmo both scored moments after going on as second-half substitutes, while Pablo Sarabia and Gerard Moreno also recorded their first international goals. Goalkeeper Pau López debuted in his first competitive match.
Álvaro Morata got Spain going in the 23rd minute when he scrambled a corner kick around goalkeeper Henry Bonello. The goal comes with Morata on a six-game scoring run for club Atlético Madrid.
Cazorla doubled the advantage four minutes before halftime when he received a pass from Moreno and shot off the post and into the net.
Malta defended as best it could for the first hour, but Spain converted its overwhelming possession into a quick succession of goals to turn it into a demolition.
Torres, a Villarreal central defender, chested a ball home two minutes after going on in the 60th. Sarabia made it 4-0, and Olmo, a Dinamo Zagreb midfielder, skillfully rounded Bonello to get his strike. Moreno and Jesús Navas completed the rout.
“The way they are playing right now, I think they will win the tournament next summer,” Malta coach Ray Farrugia said.
Spain leads Group F with 20 more points than last-placed Malta.
Spain plays Romania in Madrid on Monday.
Harrison Dillard, the former Buffalo Soldier and only Olympic runner to win gold medals in both the sprints and high hurdles, has died. He was 96.
Longtime friend Ted Theodore said Dillard died Friday at the Cleveland Clinic after a fight with stomach cancer. The 1955 Sullivan Award winner as the nation's outstanding amateur athlete, Dillard was the oldest living U.S. Olympic champion.
“It is a loss for humanity,’’ Theodore said Cleveland.com. “He was an example for all of us, how to live our lives, with never an unkind word for anyone. He was a champion, a true champion.’’
Dillard was a sharpshooter in the last racially segregated unit in the U.S. Army in World War II, serving as a Buffalo Soldier in the 92nd Infantry Division. He returned to Europe a few years later for the Olympics.
In the 1948 London Games, Dillard won the 100 meters in 10.3 seconds and earned another gold medal on the United States’ 400 relay team. At the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, Dillard won his specialty, the 110 high hurdles, in 13.91, and again ran on the winning relay team. Overall, Dillard won more than 400 races — 82 in a row at one point.
Dillard won 11 indoor and outdoor national championships, including the indoor 60-yard hurdles a record eight consecutive years. Dillard won that event at the Millrose Games nine years in a row. He held world hurdles records at 60 yards indoors, and 110 yards and 220 yards outdoors.
A native of Cleveland, Dillard grew up idolizing another Cleveland native, Jesse Owens. Dillard and Owens, who won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics, graduated from Cleveland East Technical High School and starred at Baldwin Wallace College.
In 1974, Dillard was inducted into the Track and Field Hall of Fame, and in 1983 he became a charter inductee into the U.S. Olympic Committee Hall of Fame.