Wherever Bill Russell goes, he is a walking monument to the history of basketball, a 6-foot-10-inch gateway to so many of the stories that weave the league together.
His presence in Springfield has been permanent for almost half a century. In 1975, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the first Black player to receive the honor. However, he chose not to attend.
It was his own form of protest. He didn’t reveal until 2019, when he finally accepted his Hall of Fame ring, that the reason was because he believed there were others before him who deserved to be recognized.
On Saturday, Russell was once again inducted into the Hall of Fame. Already acknowledged for his accomplishments as a player, he was honored at MassMutual Center for his time as a head coach.
When Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach passed the baton to Russell in 1966, Russell became the first Black coach in the history of US professional sports. He went on to win two championships in three years as player-coach in Boston.