Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 at 12:45 pm  |  17 responses

Bill Russell to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Barack Obama will honor the former Celtics great at the White House today. USA Today reports: “Russell is the first person from the NBA to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He’ll join more than a dozen other recipients, including baseball Hall of Famer Stan Musial. ‘It’s very flattering because I’ve tried to live my life doing what I think is right and for the right reasons and one of the reasons was never to get accolades or honors,’ Russell told CNN anchor John King on Tuesday in an interview that will air on NBATV’s True NBA news magazine show in late March … Whether winning championships, watching [Martin Luther] King’s speech or teaching basketball to an integrated group of kids in Jackson, Miss., during a turbulent period for civil rights in 1963, Russell never considered himself a part of history. He said he was experiencing current events, viewing race, athletics and life through his unique prism. Asked if I meant even more that a black president will honor him, Russell told King, ‘I told him (President Obama) that it was great that he was the first black president but that’s not what I liked most about him — not that he was a black president but that he was president and that he reached the top of his field on intelligence, ingenuity and hard work.’ Russell enjoys telling stories and they are often punctuated by the high-pitched Russell laugh, beginning deep in his chest.”

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  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Bill Russell is a beast. Who needs autographs when you carry yourself like a man every day?

  • http://www.redraidersports.com Nicolas Fleming


  • riggs

    well deserved.

  • http://sdfklf.com Jukai

    Out of curiosity: why?

  • JTaylor21

    If he gets one, how bout one for the Big O and EBaylor?

  • http://www.redraidersports.com Nicolas Fleming

    It’s actually a “Trade stimulus Package” Pres. Obama gives Bill Russell the Medal Of Freedom for one of Bill’s rings and a spot on the newly revamped School House Rock, Where Russell is filmed in DC explaining the complexities of being a Bill sitting on Capitol Hill.

  • http://nobulljive.com/ Enigmatic

    The Presidential Medal of Freedom can be awarded by the president to anyone who has made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
    I guess from a cultural standpoint, Bill Russell is pretty damn deserving.

  • burnt_chicken

    many people fail to remember that Reagan initiated the Star Wars missile defence program by launching Bill Russell into space and having him swat any/all ICBMs that were hell-bent on disrupting American freedom. He never missed one. This honor is long overdue!

  • http://sdfklf.com Jukai

    burnt_chicken: Oh, I didn’t know about that. I guess it makes sense then.

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    A national treasure.

  • http://nobulljive.com/ Enigmatic

    Obama should replace SecDef Gates with him.
    “Secretary of Defense Bill Russell.”
    It just sounds…right.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Bill Russell is Dr. Manhattan.

  • LA Huey

    Anybody know how Russell is on handshakes? I know he lives in my area and would love to bump fists or shake hands with my favorite pre-modern era baller.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Enigmatic just gave Bill Russell his new nickname: The Secretary of Defense. I like it.
    But he really is Dr. Manhattan. I wasn’t even joking.

  • Zabba

    Yeah, but…why? For winning 11 rings? That’s why the Finals trophy is rightly named after him. But in terms of advancing the civil rights movement like say, Jackie Robinson? I don’t think so.

  • http://slamonline.com Ugh

    burnt_chicken is hilarious.
    I don’t know jack about American awards, but giving something with that title to a basketball player does sound very stupid.

  • CP

    @Zabba & UGH Do a little homework before you two Post next time,The man was the first Black coach in The NBA along with the other non basketball related things he did for the Civil Rights Movement