Who deserves top billing as we prepare to induct our inaugural class into the Boston Hall of Fame? I make the case for Celtics legend Bill Russell, while colleague Joe McDonald lobbies for Bruins legend Bobby Orr. Here's a snippet from my argument for Russell:
The city of Boston is in the process of designing a statue that will sit in City Hall Plaza and honor Celtics legend Bill Russell. It's long overdue, and yet there's one thing holding up the process: No one knows what it should look like.
Not only was Russell the best Celtics player in team history, his impact extended off the court with his role in local civil rights and mentoring children. For all that he did for Boston, Russell is inarguably the region's greatest sports star.
Start on the court, where Russell did nothing but win. Before he arrived in Boston, Russell led the University of San Francisco to 55 consecutive wins and back-to-back NCAA titles, then struck gold in the 1956 Olympics.
Russell won a ridiculous 11 titles in 13 NBA seasons with Boston. A 12-time All-Star and five-time MVP, Russell essentially redefined the center position with his defense-first focus and rebounding abilities. Russell never averaged less than 18.6 rebounds per game in a season and is the Celtics' all-time rebound leader (21,620). Over the final two years of his career, Russell served as player/coach -- the first African-American head coach in professional sports after he took over for Red Auerbach -- and won titles in both seasons.
Just how much impact did Russell have on those teams? The season after he retired at age 35, the Celtics went 34-48 and missed the playoffs for the first time in two decades.
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