During the February ceremony to give Celtics basketball legend Bill Russell the Presidential Medal of Honor, President Obama suggested the City of Boston build a statue in his honor. Turns out the city listened and is doing just that.

Yesterday, Boston Mayor Tom Menino and other city officials announced that a statue in honor of Bill Russell will be built outside of the City Hall Plaza. It is a significant step for the city that the Louisiana-born Russell himself once referred to as a “flea market of racism.”

Though Bill Russell led the historic franchise to 11 championships in 13 seasons, his relationship with the city of Boston has been a highlight reel of his own. In 1972 when the city retired his jersey, Russell refused to attend the ceremony. He did attend the re-retirement ceremony in 1996 and shed tears in front of the packed house of fans at standing ovation.

According to The Associated Press, Bill Russell and the Bill Russell Foundation have three artists have been named as finalists for the statue’s design.

The committee said the site was chosen because of its location near the Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall and other tourist attractions. Officials said Russell, 77, and the committee approved the site for the statute to commemorate the former Celtic as a sports champion, human rights leader and youth mentoring advocate.

The committee said it will seek private donations for the statue and will launch a public fundraising campaign in the fall to coincide with the selection of the winning design.

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  • Intellblackman

    It’s about time the most successful athlete in the history of Boston got his due. Eleven championship rings is enough to make even Jordan green with envy. As a child growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, the images of adults overturning school buses full of terrified little black children in protest of busing are permanently burned into my psyche. Just Google the pics.

    I know they played in different eras, but just look at the contrast in how Larry Byrd is worshiped and adorned (in spite of being a real life deadbeat dad) even to this day and the way Bill Russell was viewed. The latter was perceived as arrogant and antisocial, just because he had the audacity to complain about overt racism.

    Look back at the Charles Stewart case. You remember that one. That was the case that first started the trend of white criminals falsely accusing fictional black assailants a la Susan Smith. The police overturned the entire city in search of that mythical black boogeyman who shot two innocent, middle class white suburbanites. Only one problem. It was later revealed that the husband had murdered his pregnant wife before shooting himself. Then, the cowardly, racist bastard jumped off of a bridge. The scariest part of all is the fact that the police had actually arrested an innocent black man for the crime.

    Do I need any more reasons to hate the city of Boston? I think not.