Bill Russell’s career
Bill Russell’s career
Jack O'Connell/Globe staff
December 26, 1956: Bill Russell and Celtics coach Red Auerbach watched a game in Boston Garden. Russell debuted with the team four days earlier.
April 8, 1958: Bill Russell and his five-month-old son, William Jr., looked on Russell's wife, Rose, tended to his right ankle. The injury suffered in the third game of the playoff series against St. Louis resulted in a badly sprained ankle, which doomed the Celtics' chances against the Hawks. Even though Russell returned to action, he was limping badly could not contain the Hawks' Bob Petit, who scored 50 points in the sixth and decisive game.
June 6, 1966: Bill Russell grabbed a rebound during a game.
May 6, 1969: Bill Russell greeted fans after the Celtics won the NBA title.
One of two vintage color photos of Bill Russell (seen here in an undated image with rival Wilt Chamberlain) during his playing days.
June 22, 1966: Bill Russell was mobbed by young fans after he gave the commencement address at the Patrick Campbell Junior High School's "Freedom Graduation." This was the second graduation ceremony after the original commencement was disrupted when Rev. Virgil Wood took over the auditorium to protest the presence of School Committee-woman Louise Day Hicks at the predominantly black junior high. Louise Day Hicks was to many blacks the symbol of resistance to integration in Boston. Russell's speech proclaimed, "there's a fire here in Roxbury that the school committee refuses to acknowledge... I do not say we have to love each other, but we must try to understand and respect each other."
July 16, 1967: Football star Jim Brown and Bill Russell. A month earlier, the pair had joined in support of boxer Muhammad Ali's decision not to fight in the war in Vietnam.
October 9, 1968: Actor Robert Wagner coached Bill Russell for his initiation into the thespian ranks with his appearance in an upcoming ABC-TV "It takes a Thief" segment. Wagner was assisted by actress Sharon Harvey. The title of the episode was "The Thingamabob Heist." The Celtics player-coach played the butler of a very fancy "fence" Ricardo Montalban. Only in this case the butler didn't do it. He couldn't do a thing right. Russell's character was supposed to keep Wagner, a visiting thief, locked up in his room, but Russell gets conked with a piece of statuary and Wagner takes off with the loot.
May 6, 1969: Bill Russell and and his wife, Rose, were greeted at Logan Airport by Governor Francis Sargent as they returned home after the Celtics won their 11th World Championship title. They defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 108-106 in a Game 7 win. The total playoff earnings for the team was $93,000. When asked what he would do with the cash, Russell replied, "The money? I'm going to spend it. I still haven't figured out a way where I can send it ahead or take it with me, so I'm going to spend it."
June 2, 1999: Celtics legends Larry Bird and Bill Russell shared a laugh during a ceremony celebrating the closing of Boston Garden.
February 15, 2011: Bill Russell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama at the White House in Washington, D.C.