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Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Boston to build Bill Russell statue

By Chris Forsberg
ESPNBoston.com

The Boston Celtics announced Wednesday that, at long last, Bill Russell will be honored with a statue in the city of Boston.

"We are honored to play a role in paying tribute to such an extraordinary athlete, leader and legacy," Celtics managing partner/co-owner Stephen Pagliuca said. "Bill Russell will forever be remembered in Boston, and it's fitting that the ultimate benefactors of his legacy will be future generations of our beloved city's youth."

It was not immediately clear where the statue would be erected. Last year, a statue of Bruins legend Bobby Orr was unveiled in front of the TD Garden.

Said Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who convened and hosted the first meetings of the newly formed Bill Russell Legacy Committee: "I am so proud to be part of an effort to honor Bill Russell. He is not only one of the greatest champions the sports world has ever seen, he is a man who has stood by and delivered for our young people through his support of mentoring programs. I want all Bostonians and all who work or visit here to recognize Bill Russell and all his accomplishments."

The team also announced the creation of a mentoring program in Russell's name.

For his part, Russell was humbled by the honor.

"I am uncomfortable with honors such as this but my years as captain of the Boston Celtics were the proudest moments of my career," Russell said. "Mayor Menino's Boston has proven to be a city that embraces the diverse contributions of all its people and neighborhoods. I am thankful to the Celtics and all the contributors for the effort to create such a wonderful mentoring program."

During a White House ceremony earlier this year in which he awarded Russell a Medal of Freedom, President Barack Obama said he hoped Boston would build a statue of Russell.

"I hope that one day in the streets of Boston, children will look up at a statue built not only to Bill Russell the player, but Bill Russell the man," Obama said.

The Hall of Famer Russell won 11 championships in his 13 seasons with the Celtics and was the first black coach in NBA history. For his career, he averaged 15.1 points and 22.5 rebounds per game.

Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.