Bill Russell, the greatest Boston Celtic of all time, celebrated his birthday Friday.
The NBA legend, who won 11 titles as a player and two more as a coach in Boston, turned 87. Apparently he celebrated in quite a big way, with two cakes combined into one just to fit all the candles.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens believes he deserves it, for all Russell has and continues to do for the game
“Consider his impact, right?” Stevens in his pregame media availability Friday. “Consider his impact as one of the greatest teammates and winners of all time in any sport — and his impact socially. And his continued loud voice on what is right.”
Stevens has had the pleasure of meeting Russell on a couple of occasions, but said he hasn’t had a chance to spend much time with the Hall of Famer.
Not that he would need to know him personally to understand the impact Russell had as the first Black player in the NBA to achieve superstar status. After all, Barack Obama awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his activism in the Civil Rights Movement.
Stevens recalls blowing a halftime lead at home the first time he ever met Russell, under the banners the five-time league MVP helped lift, and feeling terrible about it.
“He is everything you want to be represented by,” Stevens said. “And I’ve said this many times, when you think about his impact on and off the court, he’s in very rarefied air. And I can’t think of a better representative of our sport or the Celtics.”