|Celtics to unveil long overdue Bill Russell statue||10.16.13 at 5:36 pm ET|
The Celtics finally announced plans to unveil the long overdue Bill Russell sculpture designed by local artist Ann Hirsch in Boston City Hall Plaza on Nov. 1 at 2 p.m. — prior to the C’s home opener against the Bucks that night.
With Russell and his daughter Karen Kenyatta Russell in attendance, TNT NBA analyst Kenny Smith will emcee the festivities, and the guest list is ridiculous.
There are the usuals: Celtics alumni Tommy Heinsohn, Sam Jones, JoJo White, Satch Sanders, Johnny Jones, Em Bryant, Togo Palazzi, Ronnie Watts, Rick Weitzman and Bill Walton; Celtics owners Stephen Pagliuca, Wyc Grousbeck and Bob Epstein; and team president Rich Gotham. NBA commissioner David Stern and his successor Adam Silver, Red Auerbach‘s daughters Randy and Nancy, Celtics legend Jim Loscutoff‘s wife Lynn and Warriors president Rick Welts are also expected to attend.
The pop culture icons: musicians Johnny Mathis and Bill Withers, Pulitzer prize winners Isabel Wilkerson and Taylor Branch, four-time Emmy Award-winning actress Alfre Woodard and human rights activist Kerry Kennedy.
And politicians: former Senior Advisor to the President David Axelrod, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Congressman Joe Kennedy III and MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell.
In addition to the sculpture, featuring 11 elements to represent each of Russell’s championship rings, a legacy committee comprised of Russell’s daughter, Heinsohn, Menino, Pagliuca and Bobby Sager established a mentoring grant program in his honor that has already handed out $50,000 to programs in need.
‘I am happy to see the Celtics embrace mentoring and create this program that benefits children,’ Russell said. ‘My lifelong passion is to help the mentoring of children and the biggest honor of my career was to be captain of the Boston Celtics.’
A representation of the sculpture can be found on the artist’s website.
|Bill Russell: The Heat won two straight titles? Yawn||06.21.13 at 9:53 am ET|
Granted, Russell’s career Game 7 record is 10-0, so he’s the only man alive allowed to grow tired of an epic finale to a glorious Heat-Spurs series. That includes you, two-time NBA champion Chris Bosh. Yawn, indeed.
|Phil Jackson says he’d take Bill Russell over Michael Jordan||05.24.13 at 10:35 am ET|
Legendary coach Phil Jackson, on an interview tour to promote his new book, gave a surprising answer when asked which player in NBA history he would choose to start a franchise.
“In my estimation, the guy that has to be there would be Bill Russell,” Jackson told Time magazine. “He has won 11 championships as a player. That’s really the idea of what excellence is, when you win championships.”
Jackson coached Michael Jordan‘s Bulls to six championships and Kobe Bryant‘s Lakers to five more. In his book, “Eleven Rings,” Jackson compares the two, noting that Jordan was a better leader, shooter and defender. Asked which one he’d prefer to have on his team, Jackson played it down the middle.
“I would flip a coin,” he said. “Whichever one came up heads or tails, I’d take that person. They were that good.”
|Irish Coffee: Bill Russell, basketball’s grandfather||02.19.13 at 12:31 pm ET|
I was 12 years old when my grandfather died, and I never really got to ask him about playing for Passaic (N.J.) High’s “Wonder Team,” owners of the longest win streak (159 games) in prep basketball history and entrants into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, or about playing for Rutgers, where he apparently also took part in a handful of exhibition games under an assumed name for $25 a night. This was the 1920s, before the NBA.
So, when Bill Simmons interviewed Bill Russell, basketball’s grandfather, on NBA TV Monday, it made me feel profoundly nostalgic, jealous and robbed of so many great tales of my own basketball ancestry. But mainly I just felt lucky that we all still have this great link to Celtics past. Heck, to American history. And we should cherish that.
Russell shared captivating story after captivating story. His admiration of his father Charles, who raised his playwright brother Charlie L. and him while working for decades in an Oakland foundry. His belief he would never have played in the NBA if he hadn’t been traded from the “overwhelmingly racist” city of St. Louis in 1956 to Boston for future Hall of Famers Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan. His quiet first meeting with a young Kansas freshman named Wilt Chamberlain. His pavement of the road to professional players’ unions and big contracts, like the $100,001 one he signed in 1965 — one more dollar than Chamberlain’s deal. His support of Muhammad Ali during the heavyweight champ’s conscientious objection to the Vietnam War. And so on and so on.
He was fascinating. Here are 11 great quotes from the interview, one for every title he won for the Celtics.
|Doc Rivers on Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo and Wednesday pregame notes||01.02.13 at 8:03 pm ET|
Doc Rivers announced before Wednesday’s game that Rajon Rondo had been cleared to play and would start with Avery Bradley in the Celtics backcourt as the team looks for a defensive spark to turn around its three-game losing streak.
Rondo suffered a bruised right hip against the Clippers on Thursday and missed Saturday’s game against the Warriors before returning on Sunday in the loss to the Kings. Rondo sat out Tuesday’s practice before working out two hours before Wednesday’s game against the Grizzlies and getting cleared to play.
Meanwhile, Bradley is making his season debut after surgery on both shoulders in the offseason. Rivers said before the game there would be no minutes limitations on Bradley in his first appearance of the season.
“I just think the quicker we get to our lineup, the better,” Rivers said. “We’re going to get to it anyway, so why wait?”
“If he’s hurting us, we take him out; if he’s playing well, we let him play,” said Rivers. “I think it’ll be vision, but listen, we gotta play with some kind of pace, offensively and defensively, obviously. So it’ll be pretty easy to see.”
Rivers said he hasn’t paid attention to reports that Bradley will be the key to a turnaround.
“I haven’t paid too much attention to all this stuff. Is he [Bill] Russell yet? Or [Bob] Cousy? I don’t know,” Rivers said. “If that’s what [media has] made him, and if he lives up to that, then I’m good with that. I hope everyone’s right.”
Can Bradley make the rest of the Celtics better defenders?
“If you take one great defensive player and you put him on a team, the team is going to be a better defensive team,” Rivers added. “And as important as bigs are, I’ve always thought, especially if it’s a guard that applies pressure, that kinda fuels energy. You see it and it’s hard for you not to do it. You got this guy doing it and then, what, are you not going to do anything? It clearly helps. Again, because this is his first game this year, the other players have a 30-game advantage on him as far as timing and stuff, as far as running their stuff. I’m not looking for the world today or tomorrow, even in a week. But it’s going to come.”
|Bill Russell isn’t chasing ghosts||09.14.12 at 4:06 pm ET|
The news that the great Bill Russell had recently undergone two heart procedures as reported by Peter Vecsey came as a bit of a shock, but Russell is recovering and he talked to NBA.com about that and more in a wide-ranging Q+A.
- “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.”
Russell said that he wasn’t able to play golf or drive, depriving him of two of his favorite activities, but he added helpfully that with all that free time around the house he got to be a grouch.
He also offered his thoughts on LeBron James, the new-look Celtics and even Jeremy Lin for some reason, but there was one other part of the interview that caught my eye. When asked about the debate between the 1992 and 2012 Olympic teams he responded:
I have this theory that it’s impossible to play against ghosts — past, present or future. That kind of discussion is for non-participants. It’s like video games. Whenever someone would ask me how I would play against this guy or that guy, I always thought that it was like playing against ghosts. Past, present and future and I never get into that discussion. You can only play against your contemporaries.
Basketball — out of all of the sports — is the most evolving. Whoever the best player is, that’s how the game is played for a generation.
This is the best rebuttal to that particular pseudo debate that I’ve seen this summer. Not only is it self-explanatory, it also reveals a keen insight: The best player at any given time dictates the terms of the game. Whether it was Russell, Wilt, Bird, Magic or Jordan the sport belongs to them for a certain amount of time, however long or fleeting it may be. Comparing players from different eras may be an amusing diversion, but it ultimately accomplishes nothing and Russell — as we know — is all about accomplishments.
|Irish Coffee: How Kevin Garnett cements his Celtics legacy and ensures his number retires to the Garden rafters||08.01.12 at 2:12 pm ET|
It didn’t take long after being traded on July 31, 2007 for Kevin Garnett to carve his name into Celtics lore. He poured the foundation for his legacy when he helped deliver the franchise’s 17th NBA championship, but has he cemented it enough to ensure his number will join the 20 others retired to the Garden rafters?
Garnett’s impact goes far beyond statistics, so the C’s may have already reserved a square to stitch his number between Cedric Maxwell‘s No. 31 and Paul Pierce‘s No. 34, but his three-year extension should assure him of never seeing another Celtic don the No. 5 again. And that assertion can be put into numbers.
Already, Garnett’s 5,229 regular-season points and 1,393 postseason points in a Celtics uniform rank him 27th and 16th in franchise history, respectively. Once you consider his 2,771 rebounds and 919 assists in the regular season as well as his 748 rebounds and 198 assists in the playoffs, he joins lists that already only respectively include 17 and seven Celtics players. The question remains: How much higher can Garnett climb?