Happy Birthday, Bill Russell!

The legendary Celtics center turns 79 today. Let's celebrate.

Bill Russell turns 79 today. There’s no better time than now to re-read Paul Flannery’s essay about the socially conscious Celtics legend. In the December 2010 issue of Boston, Flannery argued that the city should build a statue to honor Russell. Two-plus years later, a statue is in the works. Still, Flannery’s piece is worth revisiting:

Russell’s winning is stunning in its own right, but that’s only part of his story. Throughout his life, Russell has spoken out about injustice and has stood firm in the face of withering racism. A man of both action and intellect, he is an author and an art collector whose favorite childhood refuge was not the gym but the public library. Russell was, and is, a Renaissance man in full. As the author and social activist Dave Zirin puts it: “Bill Russell is on the Mount Rushmore of great athletes who made a difference. He’s there with Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, and Arthur Ashe. That’s Bill Russell’s legacy.”