‘Bill Russell: Legend’ is a great documentary for a great star


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The Documentary series poster for ‘Bill Russell: Legend’.

Fares Osman, Staff Writer

After a long career and a long time in Bill Russell’s life, the documentary series Bill Russell: Legend came out on Feb. 8, 2023, directed by Sam Pollard. Bill Russell: Legend is the story of Russell and how he came into the NBA as an African-American man in the 1950s. At the beginning of the documentary, Russell is introduced as a college basketball player in the University of San Francisco. Russell is an NBA Hall of Famer, born in 1934 and died recently in 2022.

The documentary detailed how Russell struggled as one of the only African-American players in college. It was hard for him to travel and even buy shoes and clothes he could use for practice, as many businesses at the time would not hire him simply because of his race I thought that this was and excellent addition to the documentary because it also highlighted the bad moments for Russell and not just achievements.  

At the time they drafted him, he was one of the only players who was African-American in the NBA. Playing as an African-American was hard because as he went to away games, even as a well-respected and famous NBA player, he would not be able to get a hotel room for just a single night because they said they didn’t allow any African-Americans. The documentary series strongly covered the way Russell was treated and how it affected him and his on-court performance. Seeing this in the documentary was a realization of how the world has changed a lot in under a century.

Russell helped to organize the first player boycott when two of his celtics teammates Sam Jones and Tom Sanders were refused to be served at a hotel cafe in Lexington Kentucky because they were black. This was one of many stories of Russell’s way to fight for racial equality in and out of professional sports. A lot of the documentary covered these situations and it made a good impact on people watching it today and not expecting to see things like this because it is a wake-up call for younger generations who don’t realize that people of color strived for everything they got.

In 1967, Russell was named the first African-American NBA head coach, and he served as the coach for two years, leading the Boston Celtics to their 1968 and 1969 NBA titles. As a coach he had duties on and off court, and he was challenged to coach himself and coach his teammates. After Russell died in mid-2022 the NBA retired his #6 for every team in the NBA making him the first person to receive the honor. The documentary did a good job covering his whole career and the way it affects the modern world. The quality of this documentary was excellent and the way the producers helped get a vast majority of retired and current NBA players and exceeded the limits of other movies or series about the NBA. I would recommend people that like to watch sports or history movies about racism or just old movies in general.