Bill Russell's legacy of combatting racism in the NBA

Bill Russell in 1956. (AP Photo)

On the Monday edition of “Closer Look,” Ron Thomas, chair of the Journalism in Sports, Culture and Social Justice Department at Morehouse College, discusses NBA Hall of Fame and civil rights activist Bill Russell, who died Sunday.

Acquired to Celtics in 1956, Russell’s trade is considered by many among the most game-changing switches in sports history. Also recognized for his outspokenness against racism, Russell was a frequent proponent against prejudice in the association. His frankness in the face of exposing racism became a beacon for Black players who lacked protection from discrimination and retaliation.

“He was really speaking for other Black players throughout the league who, because they were not superstars, did not have the protection he did,” Thomas said. “Some people might have used that as an excuse to not say anything, but he used it as a reason to be outspoken.”