The cornerstone of the Celtics dynasty: Bill Russell
One cannot be a true basketball fan and not know the name of Bill Russell. He is known to be one of the best (if not the best) NBA center players in NBA history. He is named one of the best players for the Boston Celtics, and he left behind a legacy that is impossible to forget. His name is remembered for ages, and he still serves as a role model for many young currents and aspiring players. He is the ultimate basketball icon, one for generations to come. His name will always be on top of the list for the best players the NBA has ever witnessed.
Bill Russell played for the Boston Celtics of the NBA from 1956 to 1969. He played for the center position throughout. In his thirteen years long career, he won numerous titles for his club. Just six years after his retirement, he was honored by including his name in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
He was born on February 12th, 1934, in West Monroe, in the state of Louisiana. As one can imagine, American society was very divided at that time, with separate neighborhoods for whites and blacks. In his early childhood and teenage years, he was a victim of systemic racism. He has recalled several incidents of discrimination that he faced due to the color of his skin. When Russell turned eight years old, he and his family moved to California for a prospect of better living.
Russell's impact on society was not just through his sport or his series of consecutive victories in the NBA seasons. He not only raised his voice against racism, which was much more prevalent in American society at the time but also led by example. He stood behind the American civil rights movement and became an obvious hero for black Americans. The fact that he was so successful in his game gave him an edge to get away with some statements that might be controversial at the time. He openly spoke against the Vietnam War.
Towards the end of his basketball career, Bill Russell's boundaries between his political and professional lives did not stay well defined. Numerous sports analysts, looking back to his performance in the last ever season he played, say that he seemed distracted, and his focus was on everything else but his game. In the 1968-1969 seasons, the political climate was tense, and his personal life was also facing challenges. He felt frustrated about being so invested in a sport like basketball. It seemed like the game did not fulfill him anymore, and his performance reflected his lack of passion for it.
He officially retired in the year 1972, after quite an eventful and remarkable career. Three years later, he had been honored, rightfully so, by having his name in the NBA Hall of Fame. As previously stated, Russell was not a fan of media interactions and dodged both the ceremonies to avoid making any more headlines for his attitude on camera.
In the year 2013, Russell was honored with his very own statue in the City Hall Plaza. It was recognition and appreciation for his eleven wins to the Celtics in the thirteen championships that he played for the team.