The five-time league MVP played his entire NBA career in Boston, leading the franchise to 11 championships in 13 years. In 2011, he was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
It was during that ceremony that the push for a Russell statue gained renewed attention.
Said President Obama as he honored 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.
“I think the President’s comments certainly catalyzed a lot of thoughts and efforts that were going on in the city,” Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca said in a press release on the unveiling.
The statue was created by Somerville-based artist Ann Hirsch. It features a sculpture of Russell in game action, with granite blocks and engraved quotations surrounding him.
According to the Celtics, it “represents Bill Russell the whole man, honoring him as an athlete, coach, human rights activist, ground breaker and mentor.”
Nov. 1 is the date of the Celtics’ home opener at the Garden.