Boston Celtics center Bill Russell not only holds the record for the most NBA championships won with 11 titles, but he also left a huge legacy to all African-American athletes.
Bill was even the first black head coach in NBA history and professional sports.
But while winning on the court he was also winning outside of it, according to Aram Goudsouzian and his study named Bill Russell and the Basketball Revolution, Russell’s legacy concerns the connection between basketball and blackness in terms of culture and politics.
“It intersects with the achievements of the civil rights movement, the impulses toward racial brotherhood, and African-American self-pride”, wrote Aram Goudsouzian.
As the Celtics won title after title, Russell became a superstar and had an impact on people.
“Bill Russell is the first real great attraction the National Basketball Association ever had,” declared Walter Brown.
But still, he decided to maintain a distance from his teammates.
” I would not be unfriendly, but at the same time I did not want the reputation of being just a laughing, joking Negro.” “I don’t want people to stereotype me ever,” said Bill.
He attacked the racial double standards of the sports establishment, he also became a touchstone of African-American pride without sacrificing his principles.
Even before the Revolt of the Black Athlete in 1960s, he challenged the liberal assumptions guiding black participation in sport but never embodied a rejection of American ideals and institutions.
Instead “he provoked the public to consider his complicated individuality—to see him as a man, to acknowledge his character.” Aram Goudsouzian wrote.
Russel changed his sport and opened new political ways for the black athlete. It is considered that his legacy depends on two developments in the 1960s. One was the civil rights movement and the other is the arrival of Wilt Chamberlain, the single threat to Boston and Russell.