Skip to main content

Bill Russell and the legacy he left to all African-American athletes

  • Author:
  • Publish date:

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.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

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.

Milwaukee Bucks guard Oscar Robertson and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

Oscar Robertson claims he could beat Kobe Bryant 1-on-1 — “I taught him basketball!”

Oscar Robertson thinks he could beat Kobe Bryant one-on-one. Here's why I think he's wrong.

Too Short believes Jay Z's remake of 'Blow The Whistle' was more than just a diss song: 'I think he was thinking about signing LeBron'

Too Short believes Jay-Z's remake of 'Blow The Whistle' was more than just a diss song: 'I think he was thinking about signing LeBron'

In 2008, Jay Z did a remake of Too Short's "Blow the Whistle" as a response to DeShawn Stevenson's "overrated" dig at LeBron James. The message was on point but Too Short thinks it was more than just a diss song

Dwyane Wade on Kobe Bryant's rap skills: 'Sounded like Stephen A. Smith would rap'

Dwyane Wade on Kobe Bryant's rap skills: 'Sounded like Stephen A. Smith would rap'

Whenever Dwyane Wade hears Kobe Bryant rap, he also think about Stephen A. Smith.

Bill Simmons on the Rudy Gobert trade - “Gonna spend the next 48 hours…wondering if Minnesota just made the most inexplicable NBA overpay trade of all time”

Bill Simmons blasts the Rudy Gobert trade: "Minnesota just made the most inexplicable NBA overpay trade of all time"

Bill Simmons said he believes this may be one of the most inexplicable overpays in NBA history, and chances are, he is right

Instagram model Yasmine Lopez confirms she dated Carmelo Anthony: 'I was literally sitting next to him in the bed'

Instagram model Yasmine Lopez confirms she dated Carmelo Anthony: 'I was literally sitting next to him in the bed'

Carmelo Anthony's marriage with LaLa fell apart primarily due to his alleged unfaithfulness. Years after their divorce, one of Melo's rumored side chicks opened up.

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving

”He went back to the Nets with his tail between his legs. Why can't we just say that?” — Bill Simmons calls a spade a spade about Kyrie Irving's free agency

While discussing media coverage of NBA Free Agency, and all of its absurdities, Bill Simmons reflected on Shams' "embarrassing" myth-building around Kyrie Irving.