#1 Bill Russell: Discover the Inspiring Legacy of Basketball Icon Bill Russell in the Must-See Documentary ‘Legend


Courtesy Netflix

Bill Russell, the former basketball player and coach, was an imposing figure on and off the court. He led the Boston Celtics to an astonishing 11 NBA championships during his 13 years with the team, and was a pioneer of social justice and equality, challenging the systemic racism and discrimination of his time. A new Netflix documentary, “Bill Russell: Legend,” directed by Sam Pollard, sheds light on the life of this amazing basketball player and social activist.

Russell’s Relationship with Red Auerbach

Bill Russell was an unparalleled force on the court, and his understanding of geometry, along with his athletic ability, made him a “scientist of the court.” He was an indispensable member of the Celtics team and was instrumental in creating one of the most successful dynasties in NBA history. He also worked closely with his coach, Red Auerbach, to achieve this level of success. Pollard compared their partnership to that of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, with the difference being that Russell and Auerbach won nine championships before Russell took over as coach and won two more.

Russell as a Black Man in Boston

Russell’s arrival in Boston was not what he expected, as the city was notorious for its provincial attitudes towards racial equality. Russell was a Black man from Oakland who was suddenly thrust into a white-dominated city, playing for a team whose fans worshiped Bob Cousy as the best basketball player of all time. However, Bill Russell’s talent and tenacity eventually earned him the respect and adoration of fans and teammates alike, making him a symbol of hope and resilience for the Black community.

Russell’s Focus on Work Over Family

Pollard said that despite the challenges he faced, Russell never let the bigotry of others faze him. He was always dignified and stoic, even in the face of danger, such as when bigoted thugs broke into his house in Reading and vandalized it with racist graffiti. Russell’s strength and courage inspired others to fight for change, and he was at the forefront of the social movement that brought about the end of segregation and ensured voting rights for African Americans. He was also a key figure in the school busing crisis in Boston in the 1970s, taking an even more aggressive stand for equality.

The Making of the Documentary

“Bill Russell: Legend” features the last interview with Russell before his death in July 2022, as well as commentary from basketball legends such as Larry Bird, Steph Curry, Magic Johnson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, among others. The documentary provides a glimpse into the life of a man who was not just an amazing basketball player, but also a visionary who used his platform to fight for justice and equality.

Pollard, who is renowned for profiling famous African Americans, said that the most enjoyable part of making the documentary was sifting through hours of archival footage. He said the footage was a “wonderful treasure trove” and that he was grateful for the abundance of material that allowed him to make a “far better film.”

Legacy and Gift for Future Generations

Bill Russell leaves behind a legacy that will be remembered for generations to come. He was a basketball player who challenged the status quo and paved the way for social justice and equality. He was a pioneer who used his platform to fight against racism and discrimination, and his legacy will inspire future generations to continue his work. The city of Boston should be proud to have had a hand in shaping such an important figure in the history of sports and social justice.

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