President Barack Obama and Celtics legend Bill Russell got an advance look Wednesday at the statue honoring the basketball great. Credit: Getty Images
UPDATE: Boston Duck Tours posted on its Twitter page that the parade would be held Saturday. Click here for more information.
Bill Russell last scored a bucket for the Boston Celtics in 1969. But after decades of tension with the city of Boston, the greatest winner in Boston sports history will be honored by the city on Friday at 2 p.m. at City Hall Plaza, where a statue in his likeness will be unveiled.
The Russell ceremony on Friday could, however, conflict with a potential Red Sox World Series victory parade/rolling rally. The Red Sox and the city have not yet announced when a parade would take place if Boston wins its series with St. Louis. If the Sox win the championship on Wednesday night in Game 6, a parade would likely be held Friday.
The last time the Red Sox won a title in 2007, the clincher occurred on a Sunday night (in Colorado) and the parade was on a Tuesday, starting at noon.
Heather Walker, the Celtics' senior director of public relations, told Metro Boston on Wednesday that the Russell ceremony would go on as scheduled no matter when a potential Red Sox parade would take place.
Russell, who was one of the highest profile athletes at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, was honored in 2011 by President Barack Obama, who pushed for a statue of Russell in Boston.
“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 at the time.
For years Russell has held conversations with the Celtics organization and the city of Boston; in the years following his retirement he rarely visited his old stomping grounds. He would endlessly praise the Celtics family, but rarely talk about the city. He claims to have once told late Celtics coach and president Red Auerbach to not to retire his number in Boston at all, and there is longstanding animosity stemming from Russell's time playing with the Celtics when his house in Reading, Mass., was broken into. The vandals wrote racial slurs on the walls and left feces in the house.
The tensions have seemingly eased over the years when it comes to Russell and Boston, as in the last decade No. 6 has come back to the Hub time and time again. But on his day in the city of Boston this Friday, there is the distinct chance the ceremony could be overshadowed by a celebration honoring the current sports heroes in town.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS