Re: Bill Russell honored with Presidential Medal of Freedom
posted at 2/16/2011 5:09 AM EST
Just so people know more exactly what Bill Russell is all about and the experiences that formed him, I copied and linked to some information widely known by those old enough or inquiring enough to be astute students of the NBA, so I gleaned these paragraphs from Yahoo that I believe are quite accurate and quite relevant at this time.
"His fierce pride (which the media called "a bad attitude") mixed about as well with Boston fans as a John Ashcroft
sing along at the Apollo Theater. The result was that the greatest player in Boston team sports
history was the target of a constant campaign of racial harassment.
When Russell tried to move from his home in the Boston suburb of Reading to a new home across town, neighbors filed a petition trying to block the move. When that failed, other neighbors banded together to try to purchase the home that Russell wanted to buy, said Tom Heinsohn
, a close friend of Russell's who played with him from 1956 to 1964. Once, vandals broke into Russell's home and defecated on his bed.
Heinsohn said two white sportswriters from Boston told him they wouldn't vote Russell the league's most valuable player
because he was Black."
"Russell also felt a deep desire to resist racism. Once in Marion, Indiana, he had been given the key to the city only to be refused service that evening in his hotel's dining room. Russell went to the mayor's home, woke him up, and returned the key."
"During the 1950s and 1960s Boston was treated to the most successful run in the history of team sports with the NBA's Celtics winning 11 championships in 13 seasons. The mainstay of that team was a player of immense skill, unselfishness, and leadership: Bill Russell
. Russell won five MVPs to go with his 11 rings.
In 1967 he became the first African American coach of a pro team. In 1974 he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame
, and in 1980 the country's basketball sports writers voted him "The Greatest Player
in the History of the NBA."http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20101211212821AAVuCN0