He led the Celtics to 11 NBA championships in 13 years, he won five MVP awards, and he permanently established himself as one of the all-time great icons of Boston sports.
But his impact reaches far beyond the Hub's city limits, and that's why President Barack Obama bestowed the Celtics' legend on Wednesday with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor an American civilian can receive.
To fully grasp the legend of Bill Russell, you have to understand his context in American history. Russell arrived in Boston in 1956, at a time when buses were still segregated and the city was mired in seemingly endless unrest between the races. The nation was only beginning to move toward liberty and justice for all.
Boston needed someone to break the mold. It needed a great athlete and an influential public figure. In Russell, it got both in one.
Russell was the first black superstar in Boston, turning the 1960s Celtics into the greatest dynasty American pro sports have ever seen. He was the first black coach in major pro sports, taking over the reins from Red Auerbach in 1966 and winning his last two rings as a player-coach. He marched with Martin Luther King. He worked tirelessly to make Boston a better sports town and a America a better place for all.
He deserves to be recognized for that.
Bobby Orr has a statue outside the TD Garden. Ted Williams has a tunnel named after him on the Mass Pike.
Bill Russell has earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The nation has already thanked him for everything he's accomplished.
But what about Boston?
Russell should have a monument of his own in this town. He deserves the highest honor a Boston sports legend can receive.
Do you think Bill Russell deserves a monument in Boston? Leave your thoughts below.