There's nothing Bill Russell hates more than the spotlight. But he stepped into it today as he was honored for his mentoring program. But along with that comes his statue… which he really doesn't like very much.
“Well, [the statue] makes me a little uneasy, because it seems almost like a tombstone," Russell joked. "I don’t want to engrave my tombstone yet, but it’s tied in with the mentoring program and there’s very little that I would not do for the mentoring program."
That last line is classic Russell. He'll do things he hates for the greater good. How can you not love that guy? And he's also a brilliant mind.
"I once said in a speech I made in Texas — it was right as the Vietnam War was winding down — I said that we should take those funds and dedicate it to our educational system," Russell said. "And after the speech a guy said to me, 'You know, you're talking about spending a lot of money, and as a taxpayer, I don't think I should have to pay taxes to educate other peoples' kids.' And I said, 'Sir, there are two reasons you should do this. One, when you were 6 years old and your folks sent you off to a school, there was a school there for you to go to. And second, there are no other peoples' children in the United States of America. That's the next generation of Americans.' And so, in my post-athletic career, I've done everything I could to further education, and if this will be something that will help, I'm all for it."
I'm going to stop here… because otherwise I'll gush about this guy for hours. He was not only a great basketball player… he's a great human being and a great American. You can't honor him enough.