Russell statue to be installed in City Hall Plaza


Russell statue to be installed in City Hall Plaza

By A. Sherrod Blakely 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 Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Celtics break ground on new practice facility


Celtics break ground on new practice facility

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- When it comes to finding ways to attract the best talent, colleges and universities often seek to upgrade their training facilities as an enticement to prospective players.
So why should it be any different at the pro level?
The Boston Celtics had a groundbreaking ceremony Monday morning for The Auerbach Center at New Balance Headquarters.
“When you think he was hired in 1966 and they’re still honoring him, it’s very humbling,” said Randy Auerbach, Red’s daughter.
New Balance officials echoed similar sentiments about the legendary Red Auerbach, the architect of arguably the greatest dynasty in professional basketball.
“Red Auerbach was a true entrepreneur whose passion for winning and dedication to the sport of basketball and the Boston Celtics was equally matched with his commitment to people and his local community,” said Jim Davis, Chairman and Owner at New Balance.  “New Balance is extremely proud to join with the Boston Celtics in honoring his professional achievements and personal values through ‘Red’s House’ at our Boston world headquarters.”
Celtics president Rich Gotham cited several benefits to moving the team to a state-of-the-art practice facility closer to Boston.
Among the reasons given was the potential for the practice facility to be a potential enticement for free agents.
“Players spend more time in the practice facility than they do in the arena they play in certainly, and maybe more than they do at home,” Gotham said. “So having a place where they feel comfortable, a place where they want to spend time to improve themselves across the board … it’s all coming together in a pretty big way. The best players know it’s integral to their success that make sure that support is there, that infrastructure is there. So when we’re out talking to a player, we’re going to be talking about this practice facility we’re building. Because we do think it’s an important part of our story.”
Some of the features of the new practice facility will include:
·  Two state-of-the-art parquet floor basketball courts where the team will practice
·  Leading edge audio-visual technology throughout the facility
·  Expanded strength and conditioning, training, and recovery facilities
·  Best-in-class locker rooms and players’ lounge
·  Physical therapy areas including hydrotherapy pools
·  Sports science and nutrition facilities
·  Expanded media work room, press conference and broadcast facilities
·  A flexible hospitality area designed for community relations activities, partner gatherings and other guest events
·  Work space for the team’s coaching and basketball front office staffs
While the facility will have all the bells and whistles you would come to expect in a new facility, Gotham said there will be a balance of sorts struck between that and the franchise’s longstanding history.
“What will be clear is it will be … at that intersection of, which is a strange intersection, of innovation but honoring our tradition,” Gotham said. “This will be a building that’s state-of-the-art, moving forward. But at the same time, I think one of the things we’re lucky to have is this treasure trove of great guys who came before us who left great wisdom and great quotes. You can see a lot of that built in. Coach Stevens is big on having motivational phrases around for the guys to see every single day when they come in for practice. If those come from Red Auerbach and Bill Russell, all the better. You’ll see us incorporating those kind of things.”   

Celtics waive R.J. Hunter as James Young makes roster


Celtics waive R.J. Hunter as James Young makes roster

BOSTON – One way or another, R.J. Hunter or James Young was not going to be a Boston Celtic by the end of the day Monday.
The Celtics made their choice by waiving Hunter just hours before the NBA deadline to trim their roster down to 15 players.
Hunter began to show signs of coming around near the end of training camp, but his improved play would eventually be too little too late.

This is certainly good news for Young, who like Hunter, made it clear that he wanted to remain with the Celtics. But it by no means should be seen as a victory for Young who is entering his third NBA season.
The 21-year-old is now part of the 15-man roster, but it still doesn’t address the issue of him playing better to where the Celtics might actually use him with some degree of regularity.
If not for Kelly Olynyk’s shoulder injury, which will keep him out of action until next month, there was a decent chance that Young would begin the season on the inactive roster. But to Young’s credit, he showed a level of dedication to the game that the Celtics had not seen before. He spent most of this past summer in Boston working on his game, trying to get physically stronger. During the preseason, his level of commitment to improving was noticeable as well.
And when he did get a chance to play in the preseason, he did a lot of little things really well, showing the kind of improvement that ultimately put him a leg up on Hunter whom the Celtics drafted last year with the 28th overall pick.
If Hunter isn’t claimed, he becomes an unrestricted free agent who can then sign with any team of his choosing. Do not be surprised if Hunter is claimed off waivers by a team which then assigns him to their Development League affiliate, similar to what the Celtics did with Ryan Kelly over the weekend.