Bill Russell was a lot like Charlie Sheen, obsessed with winning and little else, except Russell was far more normal, far less addicted to drugs and infitely more important politically. Russell stood up against racism, backed down from nobody and found time to win 11 NBA championships. And now he will have a statue in his likeness built in Boston’s City Hall Plaza (via Chris Forsberg’s Twitter).
Three finalist artists (Fern Cunningham, Antonio Mendez, and Anne Hirsch) will submit their ideas to a committee in the fall. The committee will then pick one of the artists to erect the statue, which could be a more difficult task than building most statues of ballplayers. We can immortalize Bobby Orr with his diving Stanley Cup goal, and that picture symbolizes everything he meant to Boston. We can immortalize Teddy Ballgame with a baseball bat over his shoulder, and that makes sense. But how do we choose a single pose for Russell, whose diverse qualifications for a statue span from being team sports’ greatest winner to being a leader unafraid to expose Boston’s racism? The sheer vastness of Russell’s accomplishments will make building a Russell statue both tricky and demanding.
But he will have a statue, which is what matters most. Basketball’s greatest winner will forever reside in City Hall Plaza.