Russell statue to be installed in City Hall Plaza

191544.jpg

Russell statue to be installed in City Hall Plaza

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
BOSTON Even with his playing days decades behind him, the honors continue to pour in for Boston Celtics great Bill Russell who will be honored with a statue in City Hall Plaza, it was announced on Monday.

Russell has talked about how great an honor it would be to be immortalized in such a manner.

But when it comes to individual recognition, Russell gave up on that pursuit many years ago.

As a junior at the University of San Francisco, nobody dominated the game at that time like Russell. He was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four which he capped off with 26 points and 27 rebounds - a record that still stands today - in the championship game, a 77-63 win over Lasalle. He was a 20-point, 20-rebound guy on the number one defense in the nation.

So at a postseason banquet honoring Northern California's best basketball players, writers at the time picked another center for player of the Year whose credentials weren't nearly as impressive.

From that point on, individual accolades had little value to the big man whose play redefined the game in ways no one saw coming.

"All I try to do is win every game," Russell said recently. "I didn't win them all, but I tried. So when I finished, if you say 'pick the best player,' it's always a matter of opinion. But if you win eight straight championships or 11 championships ... that's not a matter of opinion, that's a fact."

And the facts are clear.

In this town, championship runs are nice - but championship rings are the true measuring stick of success.

And by that, no one did it better than Russell, an 11-time NBA champion.

While there's no definitive date for the Rusell statue to be erected, the design will be revealed in the spring of 2012. There are three artists competing for the right to design the statue: Fern Cunningham, Ann Hirsch and Antonio Tobias Mendez.

While there has been talk about a Russell statue for some time, it didn't really seem to pick up steam until February.

In February, Russell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. At the time, there were no plans for a Russell statue in place, but President Barack Obama pushed the idea forward.

I hope that one day in the streets of Boston, children will look up at a statue built not only to Bill Russell the player, but Bill Russell the man, Obama said.

The president's words resonated throughout Celtics Nation, as well as with city officials for a man described by Mayor Thomas M. Menino as "the greatest sports champion of our time and a tremendous advocate for human rights and education."

Stephen Pagliuca, managing partner and co-owner of the Boston Celtics, has also played a pivotal role in helping elevate a tribute to Russell from being just a concept into something more concrete.

"Bill Russell has continued to excel off the court in delivering support to our young people through mentoring programs," said Pagliuca who is also president of the Shamrock Foundation. "The site that Bill Russell and the Bill Russell Legacy Project selected for Bill's statue is perfect for all Bostonians to visit and recognize him for all his accomplishments."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights from the TD Garden as Devin Booker had a historic performance where he scored 70 points, but it wasn't enough to get the win over the Celtics.

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

BOSTON – Stacking wins on top of wins is the mindset of the Boston Celtics right now, so the players who did speak to the media following Friday’s 130-120 win over Phoenix drove that point home emphatically.

But inside the locker room, it was unusually quiet, the kind of silence you expect following a loss.

Considering how the Celtics’ defense was absolutely thrashed by Devin Booker’s franchise record 70 points, there’s no question at a minimum the Celtics’ pride overall was stung.

And when Suns coach Earl Watson began calling time-outs and having his team commit fouls at the end of the game, there’s no question it rubbed a few Celtics the wrong way.

“I don’t think anybody has ever seen that; continuing to call time-outs, continuing to foul when we are up 15. But I mean, it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him (Booker) the most points possible. Hat off to to him (Booker). He played a hell of a game.”

Following the game, Watson defended his late-game decision making.

“Calling time-outs at the end kept the game close,” he said. “It’s basketball; I’m not coming to any arena to be liked. If people don’t like us while we build … so what? Do something about it.”

The Suns (22-51) never came any closer than 10 points, which was the final score margin.

Al Horford acknowledged that there was some aggravation following the game.

“You can be frustrated when somebody is doing that to you,” he said. “It’s not to one guy, it’s to the team so I think we’re probably more aggravated at ourselves, at least personally I feel that way. I probably could have done a little better, maybe done some different things to prevent it. We got to give him credit, 70 points, I don’t care it’s 70, he got 70. It’s impressive.”

But there will be some inside the Celtics locker room and among their fan base, who were bothered by the Suns’ late-game actions which seemed more focused on Booker getting numbers than anything else.

When asked about being disrespected by the Suns’ late-game strategy, Thomas wanted no part of that conversation.

“It is what it is,” Thomas said. “We won the game. We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery.”

 Boom!