Several months ago, we brought you the story that Bill Russell would finally get a statue in Boston. It was a fitting honor for a man who not only stands as the greatest player in Celtics history, but also an important figure in the city's racial history (and that of the country as a whole). A statue for Russell can't only honor his athletic accomplishments -- it needs to be about the man, too.
Based on that criterion, the city has placed Russell's statue in one of the best places possible. As announced Monday by Mayor Thomas Menino, the monument will stand at City Hall Plaza. From the press release on Celtics.com:
"Today we mark another critical milestone in Boston's tribute to Bill Russell, the greatest sports champion of our time and a tremendous advocate for human rights and education," Mayor Menino said. "I am pleased to announce that the Bill Russell Legacy Committee has chosen City Hall Plaza as the location for the statue, as it is a fitting tribute to his civic commitment, and is easily accessible for residents, fans, and visitors to enjoy."
"We are proud to play a role in paying tribute to one of the greatest champions the sports world has ever seen," Boston Celtics Managing Partner/Co-owner and President of the Shamrock Foundation Stephen Pagliuca said. "Bill Russell has continued to excel off the court in delivering support to our young people through mentoring programs. 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." [...]
The Committee chose City Hall Plaza as the location for a Bill Russell tribute statue, citing its prominent civic location and proximity to the Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall, and many of the city's popular historic sites. The site was approved by the Committee and Bill Russell himself. The three artists have been asked to incorporate this idea into their proposals, which will be submitted in the fall. The City is also planning improvements to this part of City Hall Plaza, which will be coordinated with installation of the statue.
This location ensures that Russell will forever be associated with the city as a whole rather than just the Celtics. As noted in the release, City Hall is near several major tourist attractions, so visitors to Boston will experience Russell in the greater context of American history. It's an entirely fitting tribute to one of the more fascinating figures in NBA history.
According to this release, Boston will now receive proposals for the statue from three artists and work to secure private funding for its installation. If all goes well, we should see the statue next spring.