The 11-time NBA champion was arrested just after 9 p.m. when Transportation Security Administration workers found a loaded .38 caliber Smith & Wesson firearm in his carry-on bag, according to Lorie Dankers with the TSA.
The Port of Seattle Police arrested and cited the 79-year-old on a state charge. He was released that night, but his gun was confiscated, according to airport spokesman Perry Cooper.
Passengers can legally carry some unloaded firearms in their checked baggage, but guns, ammunition, and realistic replicas are never allowed in carry-on luggage, Dankers said. She said the recommended civil penalty ranges from $3,000 to $7,500.
Russell, who has lived on Mercer Island for more than three decades, has deep roots in the Seattle area. In 1973, he was named coach and general manager of the Supersonics, according to ESPN. Russell led the team to the playoffs in his second year, but left after four years on the Seattle sidelines.
In 2007, Russell went before Washington lawmakers to urge them to support a plan to build a new $500 million multipurpose arena in the Seattle suburbs - with the help of $300 million in taxpayer money.