Last year, NESN ran a 64-athlete bracket to determine who is Boston’s biggest sports legend, and it came down to two former denizens of the old Boston Garden. Legendary Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr edged Celtics great Bill Russell in the finals, but there is no questioning Russell’s impact on the city of Boston.
Now, the former Celtics captain and coach will be honored in a similar way as Orr, as the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation in partnership with the Bill Russell Legacy Committee have announced that they will erect a statue of Bill Russell in the city of Boston. The statue is set to be designed by a local artist.
Though the location for the statue has not been announced, it will likely join Orr’s statue outside the TD Garden. The Orr statue was unveiled on May 10, 2010, capturing Orr’s notorious reaction after scoring “The Goal” in the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals.
In addition to the statue, the Bill Russell Legacy Project will also develop a Mentoring Grant program in Russell’s name, in commemoration of his dedication to human rights and youth mentoring throughout his career.
“We are honored to play a role in paying tribute to such an extraordinary athlete, leader and legacy,” Celtics managing partner/co-owner and president of the Shamrock Foundation Stephen Pagliuca said. “Bill Russell will forever be remembered in Boston, and it’s fitting that the ultimate benefactors of his legacy will be future generations of our beloved city’s youth.”
The Celtics Shamrock Foundation has established a Bill Russell Legacy Fund to serve as the primary source of funding for the project. Fans can donate to the project and to the Mentoring Grant program by visiting the Bill Russell legacy website.
Russell won 11 NBA championships with the Celtics, playing with the C’s for 13 years before serving as the coach for three. He was a cornerstone of the Celtics’ franchise during the dynasty years, and holds the record (along with former Montreal Canadiens’ center Henri Richard) for most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league.
“I am uncomfortable with honors such as this but my years as captain of the Boston Celtics were the proudest moments of my career,” Russell said of the statue honor. “Mayor [Tom] Menino‘s Boston has proven to be a city that embraces the diverse contributions of all its people and neighborhoods. I am thankful to the Celtics and all the contributors for the effort to create such a wonderful mentoring program.”
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