A Sports Blog by Matthew Geagan, CBSBoston.com/Sports Producer

BOSTON (CBS) – After presenting Celtics great Bill Russell with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tuesday, President Barrack Obama made a plea.

“Bill Russell, the man, is someone who stood up for the rights and dignity of all men,” the President said. “He marched with King; he stood by Ali. When a restaurant refused to serve the black Celtics, he refused to play in the scheduled game. He endured insults and vandalism, but he kept on focusing on making the teammates who he loved better players, and made possible the success of so many who would follow. 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.”

Red Auerbach has a statue in Fanuel Hall. Bobby Orr’s infamous “The Goal” is now outside of the TD Garden. Ted Williams has two statues outside of Fenway, and of course, a tunnel.

Now it’s Russell’s turn.

Read: Bill Russel, A Great American

Russell won 11 NBA championships with the Celtics, including nine straight from 1959 to 1969. He embellished the “team-first” mentality, focusing more on defense in an era when offense was the name of the game.

The five-time MVP was also an active leader for equal rights in the 60’s and 70’s. Russell’s relationship with the city of Boston during his playing days was not a good one, as he often felt discriminated against. He has since reconciled and is more active when it comes to events in his honor. Russell’s number-six was originally retired in front of an empty Boston Garden (at Russell’s request) upon his retirement in 1972, but was again “re-retired” in front of a sell-out crowd in 1995.

Read: The Right Man For The Honor

Now it is finally time to give fans another way to honor one of the greatest Boston athletes of all-time. He has more titles than Tom Brady, Larry Bird and Bobby Orr, combined. It is a tribute that is long overdue.

What are your thoughts? Does Russell deserve a statue in Boston? Let us know what you think.

Comments (6)
  1. Michael says:

    Yes, it is long overdue, Bill Russell helped to change Boston for the better. He had to endure ignorant acts of racism from those people who were stuck in the past.

    1. Jay R. Whittaker says:

      I’m onl enough to be able to say that I saw the Great Bill Russell play in the old Boston Garden. His professionalism, expertise and teamness was noteworthy. Everyone who played on the same court as he, played better than they would have if not for his greatness. The Boston sports community has allowed this man to miss being honored with a statue attesting to his accomplishments as a man and a basketball player. What he did for the Boston Sports Fan mandates that we recognize him and what he gave us for many years. A tribute to him is long long overdue. Correct this injustice.

  2. Ron says:

    A friend of mine. Walter Brimingham from Salem, Ma had been written the
    papers about getting a statue for “Big Russ” maybe 10 years now! I hope they
    finally get it done. Also giving Walter some credit for the efforts he put forth.

  3. Lisa Trischitta says:

    It seems to me that the city of Boston missed it’s chance to honor Russell adequately. His statue should have been erected right next to Red’s at the same time. In fact, Red shouldve insisted upon it. . It’s safe to assume that without Auerbach, Russell still wouldve been great. It’s questionable how much success Auerbach wouldve enjoyed without Russell.

  4. Jay says:

    Not to take anything away from Bill Russell, but if Boston can’t afford sufficient funds for firefighters and police I don’t think they should be spending any of the taxpayers money on ANY sports figure statue.

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