Fans, Basketball Hall of Fame honor Celtics legend Bill Russell
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The basketball world is remembering Celtics legend Bill Russell, who passed away Sunday at the age of 88.
“There’s no doubt he is one of the true pioneers of the game…His loss is immense to the basketball community and the sports community at large,” said Jason Buckley of Montgomery, IL.
On Monday, basketball fans paid tribute to Russell at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame where he was enshrined twice: once as a player in 1975 and again as a coach in 2021.
“Really proud to say that we’re from the area that Bill Russell played in,” said Daragh McCann of Plymouth.
Russell won 11 championships, including eight in a row for the Boston Celtics, the most ever by a player. However, his legacy stretches far beyond the court. He served as a pioneer for change and an advocate for social justice.
“He just took a sport, made it a platform, and made a lot of change,” McCann added.
Kyle Belanger, a professor at Springfield College, who hosts the ‘Hoop Hall Hangouts’ during the summer, reflected on his encounters with the man who he called one of the most important figures in American culture.
“He lit up every room he was in and I was fortunate to be in a few of those rooms…There’s something that happens when Mr. Russell walks into the room and every hall of famer turns to pay their respects,” Belanger noted.
Russell also cemented his footprint in western Massachusetts when the Celtics played an exhibition game at Holyoke City Hall in 1960. We spoke exclusively with Billy Glidden, the son of Bobby Glidden, a hoops star at Holyoke Catholic High School who was photographed alongside #6.
“From what my dad recalls of the photo, he was just standing there with Russell. He was in awe of him and the photographer snapped it and gave it to him later,” Billy Glidden said.
Glidden told Western Mass News that prized photograph hangs in his bedroom, local bars, and beyond.
“It clearly means a lot to people in the community that we have this connection to such an important person, such a lovely human being, and such a vital force in the life of the country,” Glidden noted.
The Basketball Hall of Fame has announced that they will honor Russell’s legacy throughout the month of August. Fans will find Russell’s 1963 game-worn regular season MVP Celtics jersey, a basketball autographed by the 1956 gold medal USA basketball tema, and Russell’s 1967 NBA All-Star Game jersey.
Basketball Hall of Fame President and CEO John Doleva said in a statement:
“There really is just no one like him in the game, past or present, that has meant so much in so many facets of the game, on and off the court. Bill will be remembered for his activism, selflessness, and commitment to principle, not to mention a championship record that is unrivaled in team sports. The game of basketball will forever be impacted and indebted to Mr. Russell; this is the passing of a true icon.”
Hall of Fame guests will also have the opportunity to relive some of Russell’s greatest moments, including a spotlight on his head-to-head battles with Wilt Chamberlain.
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