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What the Boston public did not recognize about Bill Russell in his time with the Celtics

The love affair between the Boston Celtics organization and Hall of Fame Celtics center Bill Russell was very real and based on a foundation of mutual respect. But Russell’s connection with the city of Boston is a far more complicated one due to the overt racism and misunderstanding he experienced at the hands of fans and the local media.

His refusal to be pigeonholed as simply an athlete and lack of interest in making white fans comfortable by signing autographs or compromising his views or activism in the US Civil Rights movement of the 1960s would see Russell leave the area on retirement. Boston made inroads to show that they truly appreciated him in the last two decades or so of his life, but to ignore this part of his history would do us all a disservice.

Moreover, Russell is among the most important figures of the last century exactly the stances he took that drew the ire of that era’s white Bostonians.

After he passed last weekend, the hosts of the CLNS Media “Celtics Lab” podcast got together with the New York Times’ Sopan Deb to memorialize Russell’s activism and individuality.

Check out the Celtics Lab podcast on:

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Bill Russell Red Auerbach

Bill Russell Red Auerbach

Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire