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Celtics Plan Russell Statue

The only remaining question is: where should they put it?

Because the question of whether Bill Russell deserves a statue in Boston to commemorate his enormous on-court accomplishments and place in Boston (and American) history? That’s been answered.

The Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett reports that:

According to Celtics [team stats] co-owner Steve Pagliuca, the organization has already begun the process of getting the statue created and placed. And it didn’t hurt Tuesday when President Barack Obama, while awarding Russell the Medal of Freedom, mentioned that such a monument should be erected for future generations.

“We’ve had preliminary discussions with most of the constituencies, and the mayor (Thomas Menino) wants it to happen, President Obama wants it to happen, and,” said Pagliuca, “we’re going to really try to help make it happen.

With a Bobby Orr statue already in place outside the TD Garden, Russell’s monument will be located elsewhere in the city. That’s somehow fitting in that #6 never actually played in the successor to the old Boston Garden. And of course, his legacy stretches far beyond the basketball court as Paul Flannery noted in his must-read piece for Boston Magazine earlier in the season:

Russell’s winning is stunning in its own right, but that’s only part of his story. Throughout his life, Russell has spoken out about injustice and has stood firm in the face of withering racism. A man of both action and intellect, he is an author and an art collector whose favorite childhood refuge was not the gym but the public library. Russell was, and is, a Renaissance man in full. As the author and social activist Dave Zirin puts it: “Bill Russell is on the Mount Rushmore of great athletes who made a difference. He’s there with Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, and Arthur Ashe. That’s Bill Russell’s legacy.”

One obvious location for the statue would be at Faneuil Hall, perhaps standing behind the existing monument to Red Auerbach, the man to whom Russell’s tied so closely in both memory and achievement, their collective gaze playing out across an imaginary basketball court, on which, no doubt, the Celtics are winning handily.

This weekend, NBA observers will be focused on Los Angeles and all-stars of the present and future, but the timing on this news is ideal, as no one has embodied the mantra of an all-star as appropriately as Russell did for those 5 MVPs and 11 championships.

  • JP-

    Another question is why wasn't this done earlier? Russell was as much a part as the Celtics dynasty as anyone. He deserves the statue.

  • ElGee

    Glad to see this happening. I'm not sure most people (even current basketball writers) appreciate how influential Russell was and how large his defensive impact was. Here's an estimation of the Celtics defensive dominance: http://elgee35.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/bill-russ

    Pretty much anyway one cuts it, the leader of the greatest defensive dynasty in NBA history.

  • I_Love_Green

    Well deserved, and way overdue.

  • Banner18

    We all know Russ deserves a monument. I just hope they make it special.

  • Jeff in Portland ME

    I think I already commented on the Flannery piece that placement next to Red would be appropriate. Alternatively, it could be anywhere from twenty to fifty feet tall (or bigger!) and near the Garden where the expressway comes off the Zakim bridge and goes underground.

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