Boston Celtics: Bill Russell

Russell: Didn't know C's won 8 straight titles

June, 5, 2014
The 2014 NBA Finals tip off Thursday night with Game 1 between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs. asked Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell to offer his thoughts on the matchup and he reflected on Boston's run of titles:
It might seem strange but I did not know our Celtic teams won eight championships in a row until about 20 years ago when I read about it in a game program. Our focus was always on that particular season, always one year at a time. The year we played had nothing to do with the previous year or the next year. That's just the way it was.

Now, I don't know if Miami is thinking about winning three in a row. In the NBA Finals, there's pressure and you always see how players react to the pressure. For some guys, it makes them a step slower while for other guys, it makes them a step faster. I like to watch to see how teams react to the pressure because for the really great players, there isn't any pressure, you just go out and play.

While fans, media and even some former players like to compare great teams with other great teams from different eras, it's just not practical. The game today is a different game than when I played or even when George Mikan played. For example, you were not allowed to play zone defense and today, everyone plays a zone. On the Celtics, we had seven players who averaged double figures. Today's good teams have only three. In my 13 years, the Celtics never had a player who led the league in scoring. As a result, when someone retired, it allowed another player to step into that slot, which enabled for a high level of consistency.

It's a different game, which requires different skills. So, I could not legitimately compare these teams today with any of my teams nor can I compare myself to any of the players today. It's still called basketball but it's applied differently.

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Russell's All-Star birthday celebration

February, 17, 2014

Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell got an All-Star celebration for his 80th birthday as the crowd (and players, too) serenaded him with a rendition of "Happy Birthday" after the first quarter of Sunday's All-Star game in New Orleans. Players then flocked to greet Russell on the sideline.

But it was TNT's in-game interview with Russell after that took the cake. Our friends at CelticsHub transcribed part of the interview as Russell sounded off on LeBron James for leaving the 11-time NBA champ off his Mount Rushmore of NBA legends.

"Hey, thank you for leaving me off your Mount Rushmore. I’m glad you did," said Russell. "Basketball is a team game, it’s not for individual honors. I won back-to-back state championships in high school, back-to-back NCAA championships in college, I won an NBA championship my first year in the league, an NBA championship in my last year, and nine in between. That, Mr. James, is etched in stone."

(Read more on CelticsHub)

DVR Alert: Russell in Bronze

November, 9, 2013

Comcast SportsNet debuts its latest Celtics-related special tonight with "Russell in Bronze" airing after tonight's Celtics-Heat game. The half-hour show is produced by our good friend Andy Levine and is well worth your time. Check out the preview video above and read on for more from the network on the special.

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Russell statue unveiled in Boston

November, 1, 2013
BOSTON -- A star-studded cast from the worlds of basketball, politics, and music converged on Boston's City Hall Plaza on Friday as Bill Russell helped unveil the long-awaited statue in his honor.

[+] EnlargeBill Russell
Paul Marotta/Getty ImagesBill Russell attends the statue unveiling in his honor at Boston City Hall Plaza on Friday.
Inclement weather was supposed to curtail a plan for a public viewing, but light rains and wind couldn't keep a small crowd from forming on a mild November afternoon to cheer as Russell, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, NBA commissioner David Stern, and members of Celtics ownership, including Steve Pagliuca and Wyc Grousbeck, gathered to formally unveil the multielement tribute highlighted by the statue of Russell depicting his playing days. One fan bellowed, "Long overdue, Bill!" as the cloak came off the statue.

Local artist Ann Hirsch crafted the piece that also features 10 granite blocks surrounding Russell for a total of 11 elements, representing his NBA championships. Each plinth features a word and corresponding quotation that highlight Russell's accomplishments on and off the court.

When Menino called Russell to tell him about the city's desire to craft a statue of him, Russell joked that he didn't want it because statues remind him of tombstones. What's more, he told Menino, pigeons tend to defecate on statues. Russell finally warmed to the idea when told it would incorporate his work with Boston's mentoring program.

Earlier this week, Russell accompanied President Barack Obama, who had previously rallied behind the idea of building a statue for Russell, for a sneak peek at it.

Asked after Friday's unveiling about what he wanted his legacy to be, Russell responded, "That I cared about the children and the country in a meaningful way."

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Stevens excited for Russell's visit

November, 1, 2013

WALTHAM, Mass. -- When Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens flew to Boston for his introductory press conference in July, he brought along a weathered copy of "Russell Rules," the book written by Celtics legend Bill Russell that details 11 lessons on leadership.

That book helped shape Stevens' coaching and leadership philosophies. What's more, Russell and his 11 championship rings symbolized the storied tradition of the franchise that Stevens has been tasked with restoring to title contender.

On Friday, Stevens hopes to meet Russell while the Celtics legend is in town for the unveiling of his long-awaited statue in City Hall Plaza.

"Obviously, he’s the greatest winner in the history of basketball that’s played the game," Stevens said after practice Thursday, his eyes scanning the banners in the team's practice facility as he gushed about Russell. "He made a mark on this organization like no one else has. He’s won at the very highest levels in everything that he’s done. And I’ve never met him personally; I look forward to that tomorrow. As a kid growing up and a basketball fan, he’s one of the names that is forever right next to the winner and the way you’re supposed to play the game. Obviously, there's nothing but a great deal of respect out of this building for him."

A sculpture designed by local artist Ann Hirsch will be unveiled on Boston City Hall Plaza (President Obama got a sneak peek during a trip to town this week; see the video above). The Celtics will celebrate the moment with an all-star cast of guests as part of a speaking program that's scheduled to be part of the event.

Stevens was asked if he'd pepper Russell with questions about coaching and leadership on Friday.

"I just [want to] tell him, I appreciate all that you’ve done to make this organization what it is," said Stevens. "And the continued support. I think it’s great that we’re putting a statue out front [of City Hall] in his honor."

Russell apologizes for arrest

October, 20, 2013
NBA legend Bill Russell released a statement apologizing for his arrest this week at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after a loaded gun was found in his carry-on luggage.

Said Russell in a statement: "Before boarding my flight from Seattle to Boston, I had accidentally left a legal firearm in my bag. I apologize and truly regret the mistake. I was issued a citation by the TSA, whose agents couldn’t have been more thorough and professional when dealing with this. I really appreciate their efforts to keep air travel safe.”

The Transportation Security Administration says airport police arrested Russell on Wednesday night at a security screening after agents noticed a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol in his carry-on bag.

TSA spokeswoman Lori Dankers says Russell was turned over to Port of Seattle police and cited on a state charge of having a weapon in a prohibited area. Russell had a permit for the gun, which was loaded with six rounds and confiscated, and he was released, according to Dankers.

Airline passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only in checked baggage. They must be stored properly and unloaded.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bill Russell arrested on gun charge

October, 19, 2013
SEATAC, Wash. -- NBA legend Bill Russell was arrested this week at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after a loaded gun was found in his carry-on luggage.

The Transportation Security Administration says airport police arrested Russell on Wednesday night at a security screening after agents noticed a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol in his carry-on bag.

TSA spokeswoman Lori Dankers says Russell was turned over to Port of Seattle police and cited on a state charge of having a weapon in a prohibited area. Russell had a permit for the gun, which was loaded with six rounds and confiscated, and he was released, according to Dankers.

Airline passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only in checked baggage. They must be stored properly and unloaded.

Russell, 79, has lived in the Seattle area for decades. He was an 11-time NBA champion with the Boston Celtics and coached the Seattle SuperSonics from 1973 to '77.

Russell was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 1975. President Barack Obama in 2011 awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the U.S. government.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Russell statue unveiled next month

October, 16, 2013
The long overdue statue celebrating the legacy of Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell will be unveiled on Boston City Hall Plaza on Nov. 1.

The afternoon event, before the Celtics play their 2013-14 season opener against the Milwaukee Bucks, will feature a speaking program emceed by TNT analyst Kenny Smith and will culminate with Russell unveiling his statue.

The event will feature an impressive guest list, including luminaries from the worlds of basketball, politics and music, all to celebrate the legacy that Russell left in Boston, both on and off the court.

Read on for more from the Celtics on the event and to view the guest list.

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Russell on heart procedure, C's offseason

September, 13, 2012
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty ImagesBill Russell talked to about his heart, the Celtics' offseason, and Ray Allen joining LeBron James in Miami.
Celtics legend Bill Russell spoke with to explain a heart procedure he underwent three weeks ago. A sample of the Q&A:
Russell: It's really funny, but what I did was almost routine. But when you describe it, it doesn't sound routine. I had a valve in my heart that had to be replaced and the way you replace it is by open-heart surgery. Well, open-heart surgery sounds difficult but this was not an emergency. It was something I had to do. The same operation in an emergency is life threatening. This was not life threatening. They took the valve out and replaced it. It only took a couple of hours to do that. I talked to the doctors after and they said they were pleased with the procedure. They said I would be sore after a while and after that, they said I would feel better than I ever did at this point. The most I can do now is walk but the two things I enjoy the most, I can't do this summer. Drive my car, which every summer I drive across the country at least twice, and play golf every day. I can't do either one of those for a while. So, most of the summer I get to be a grouch. You sound good. You're feeling fine?

Russell: Yes. It's all rehab basically. There was never ever any danger. The reason this was routine was because I was living a clean lifestyle. No drinking, smoking, etc. I'm in good shape.

Russell also talks about the Celtics' offseason, including the loss of Ray Allen:
Russell: You don't know how [the new Celtics] will play together. Getting a better player doesn't necessarily make you a better team. That may sound kind of weird. You may acquire a player with better statistics but may not make you a better team. Red Auerbach and the Celtics, we used to talk about that all the time. The question you have to ask yourself, 'How does his style fit with what you are going to put him with and will it make you a better team?' What Miami is doing is similar to a theory that Red used to have. You have a core group and you bring in some veterans so you don't have rookies coming off the bench. Most of the time it worked but sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes, we would bring a veteran in hoping to get one more year out of them but they were psychologically destructive, so we can only use them one year. They were not about winning. They were about their career. See, a lot of guys give lip service to the concept of winning but they don't mean it. Were you surprised Ray Allen left the Celtics to sign with Miami?

Russell: No. During the playoffs, I kept hearing people say that his legs were going so his jump shot wasn't as effective. Sometimes, management doesn't make their own decisions and takes the word of someone who doesn't really know. So, Ray can be a boost to Miami. But Jason Terry going to the Celtics can also be a boost. Basically, you're trading a shooter for a scrapper. So, you have to see how it blends in with the guys who you kept.

Hop HERE to read the full Q&A.

Russell healing after heart procedure

September, 11, 2012

Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell recently underwent a heart procedure, but is feeling well and is hoping to be back in Boston in late October, according to his business manager Stuart Layne.

Celtics vice president of media relations/alumni relations Jeff Twiss spoke with Layne on Monday and relayed that Russell is on the road to recovery.

Former New York Post columnist Peter Vecsey Tweeted on Monday that Russell underwent two heart procedures that left him unable to travel from Seattle for a golf event in Long Island.

Layne noted that Russell is up and about and feeling better each day.
On the heels of news that Larry Bird will grace the cover of 2K Sports' next installment of its wildly popular NBA video game, now Celtics legend Bill Russell has been unveiled as one of 15 legends highlighted in the game. And considering this might be one of the only way to see actual basketball this winter, here's the details:

The Legend: Bill Russell

The Game: The 1964-65 Celtics vs. The 1964-65 Lakers

Why he's in the game: This is the oldest classic match-up in the game, complete with black and white graphics and announcers that sound like they're speaking into a tin can. "Russell is one of the most tenacious rebounders and defenders the league has ever seen," says Boenisch. "We researched him incredibly well in order to get all of his signature moves and that lanky look in there. We also made adjustments to the uniforms for these older teams, not only making the shorts shorter, but making the jerseys fit tighter and fitting them in the older style shoes. It really helps give you a different feel when you're playing."

Who deserves top billing as we prepare to induct our inaugural class into the Boston Hall of Fame? I make the case for Celtics legend Bill Russell, while colleague Joe McDonald lobbies for Bruins legend Bobby Orr. Here's a snippet from my argument for Russell:
The city of Boston is in the process of designing a statue that will sit in City Hall Plaza and honor Celtics legend Bill Russell. It's long overdue, and yet there's one thing holding up the process: No one knows what it should look like.

Not only was Russell the best Celtics player in team history, his impact extended off the court with his role in local civil rights and mentoring children. For all that he did for Boston, Russell is inarguably the region's greatest sports star.

Start on the court, where Russell did nothing but win. Before he arrived in Boston, Russell led the University of San Francisco to 55 consecutive wins and back-to-back NCAA titles, then struck gold in the 1956 Olympics.

Russell won a ridiculous 11 titles in 13 NBA seasons with Boston. A 12-time All-Star and five-time MVP, Russell essentially redefined the center position with his defense-first focus and rebounding abilities. Russell never averaged less than 18.6 rebounds per game in a season and is the Celtics' all-time rebound leader (21,620). Over the final two years of his career, Russell served as player/coach -- the first African-American head coach in professional sports after he took over for Red Auerbach -- and won titles in both seasons.

Just how much impact did Russell have on those teams? The season after he retired at age 35, the Celtics went 34-48 and missed the playoffs for the first time in two decades.

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BOSTON -- City Hall Plaza will serve as home to the Bill Russell statue, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca announced Monday morning in a brief ceremony on the expected location on the south side near State Street.

While considering a handful of locations during the selection process, a site visit to City Hall Plaza with Russell confirmed to the legacy committee that it was the ideal spot.

"The mayor brought Bill here and, when they came to look at the site, literally hundreds of kids surrounded him and were taking pictures," said Pagliuca. "It was as if he was a live statue here. It's going to be very exciting."

Mayor Menino suggested that Russell could be the first seed in making the area a place to celebrate all of Boston's sports history.

"It might be a plaza of champions in the future," said Menino. "But we want to make sure that Bill Russell is the lead champion."

Google MapsThe red pin denotes the Bill Russell statue location.
Three artists have been selected as finalists for the design of the statue and, after making their first official site visit Monday, will be asked to submit their visions to the legacy committee in October. Pagliuca suggested the actual statue could be unveiled next spring, noting he hoped it would coincide with the Celtics' 2011-12 season (if the lockout allows for one).

The three artists are Fern Cunningham, creator of the Monument to Harriett Tubman in Boston's South End; Antonio Mendez with Oudens Ello Architects, whose work includes the player statues outside Fenway Park; and Ann Hirsch, a local artist based in Somerville.

The artists have the challenge of designing a statue that not only celebrates Russell's accomplishments on the basketball court, but what he meant to the city off the court.

"Besides Bill Russell being the best basketball player in the city of Boston, off the court, we know him as an individual who went out to work with young people," said Mayor Menino. "When he saw a young person in trouble, he tried to work with them and put them on the right track."

Pagliuca said the committee is hoping the artists can design something where "people can sit and reflect, think about all the contributions Bill made and the progress this city has made. Not just a walk-by or drive-by, but an educational experience. I'll leave that to the artists, they can interpret that... but we'd like it to be interactive."

The committee noted the site's proximity to the Freedom Trail and Faneuil Hall as a chief reason for selecting the location. The news conference itself drew a sizable crowd just from those passing by. The area is part of the City Hall Plaza renovation, and those improvements will be coordinated with the installation of the statue.

Pagliuca said that the Shamrock Foundation has raised a "fair" amount of money through private fundraising and said it would open the project to public donations probably around the time the final designs are unveiled in October. Pressed on the funding, Pagliuca assured that the committee would build a "world-class statue," and said the community had already pledged support in aiding the project.

Russell throws first pitch in Seattle

May, 27, 2011
AP Photo/Ted S. WarrenBill Russell and Reggie Jackson chat in the Yankee dugout Friday night.
SEATTLE -- Former Boston Celtics great Bill Russell, probably the only professional athlete ever to throw out the first pitch at a New York Yankees game who has more championship rings than Yogi Berra, did the honors before Friday night's Yankees-Mariners game at Safeco Field.

The 77-year-old Russell, a member of 12 Celtics NBA championship teams and a Seattle resident, bounced his pitch to the Mariners diminutive Chone Figgins, and then posed for a comical photo next to the 5-foot-8 utility man, who is 14 inches shorter than Russell.

Russell appeared in connection with the Mariners African-American Heritage Night celebration.

Snapshot: Ray & Russell stump for Obama

May, 19, 2011
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Celtics stars of the past (Bill Russell) and present (Ray Allen, above) appeared on stage Wednesday night speaking at a Democratic fundraiser to support President Barack Obama at the Boston Center for the Arts.

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Isaiah Thomas
20.1 5.4 0.7 26.6
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsI. Thomas 5.4
StealsM. Smart 1.3
BlocksT. Zeller 0.7