Bill Russell Statue Planned At City Hall

By WGBH News

Jul. 11, 2011

BOSTON — A statue honoring Celtics great Bill Russell will be installed in Boston's City Hall Plaza, said Mayor Thomas M. Menino on Monday

During the 1950s and 1960s, Russell led the Celtics to 11 championships in 13 years and was named the team's Most Valuable Player five different times.

President Obama presented Basketball Hall of Fame member Bill Russell with a Presidential Medal of Freedom on Feb. 15. (AP)

But unlike other Boston all-stars like Bobby Orr and Ted Williams, there's not yet a statue for him in the city. President Barack Obama helped build momentum for a Russell statue when he presented the former Celtic with a Presidential Medal of Freedom earlier this year and suggested Boston give Russell the honor of a statue.

During a formal announcement on Monday, Menino said the statue will be unveilied next spring.

"Today we mark another critical milestone in Boston’s tribute to Bill Russell, the greatest sports champion of our time and a tremendous advocate for human rights and education," Menino said.

Three artists — Fern Cunningham, Ann Hirsch, and Antonio Tobias Mendez — will submit competing designs for the sculpture. One will be selected in the fall.

Despite his prowess on the court, Russell did not always feel respected by city of Boston, which he once called "a flea market of racism."

But he has reconnected with the city in recent years, working here on behalf of the National Mentoring Program.

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