Bill Russell: Legend


     Many people recognize Bill Russell as one of the greatest players to ever play in the NBA. For those who don’t know, Bill Russell was a 6’10 center from West Monroe, Louisiana. Russell played 13 seasons in the NBA for the Boston Celtics. Beyond Russell’s impressive NBA career, he was also very supportive of the Civil Rights Movement. Recently, there has been a documentary on Netflix produced about Russell’s life called Bill Russell: Legend.

     Bill Russell acquired many achievements while playing in the NBA from 1956-1969. He is often noted for his exceptional defense and incredible rebounding skills. But, Russell was also a very talented offensive player as well. Another stat that Russell would be known for, if it was recorded at the time, would be blocks. Some have calculated that Russell would’ve averaged 8.1 blocks per game if they were recorded. Furthermore, Wilt Chamberlain – another amazing center throughout the 1960’s – would have averaged 8.8 per game if blocks were a stat recorded during his time in the NBA. He is also recognized as being the winningest NBA player ever. With 11 championships during his 13-year career, Russell definitely has the best finals record – 11 for 12.

     When I first started watching the show, I was expecting an overview of all of Bill Russell’s stats, records, and accomplishments during his time in the NBA. However, the majority of the show recalls all of Bill Russell’s work during the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960’s. Off the court, Bill Russell was a Civil Rights Activist. Russell faced a lot of racial prejudice when traveling to other places with his team. There would be occasions when Russell couldn’t even stay at the same hotel or eat at the same restaurant as his team. In another instance, Bill Russell was the player coach for the Celtics. There were only 12 open spots on the roster, and there were 13 players to choose from. So, Russell decided to cut a player named Art Heyman. After he was cut from the roster, Heyman then proceeded to call Bill Russell nearly every racist name somebody can think of. However, Russell managed to keep his cool during this altercation and not say anything. Since he was one of the first African American players in the NBA, there was still a lot of racism towards him during his life. Russell also participated in the March on Washington in 1963. Russell also supported boxer Muhammad Ali when he protested being in the Vietnam War due to his religion.

     Overall, the documentary was very informative. There were only two episodes, but each episode was about one and a half hours long. So, if you are interested in older NBA and/or civil rights, you need to watch the documentary Bill Russell: Legend. The documentary didn’t provide as much information about Russell’s career as much as his work in the Civil Rights Movement.