Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports

Bill Russell takes knee to support NFL players

Alex Reimer
September 26, 2017 - 2:49 pm

Bill Russell is kneeling to support his NFL brethren.

An unverified Twitter account posted a picture Monday night of the 11-time champion and five-time MVP kneeling while wearing his Presidential Medal of Freedom. The captain says, “Proud to take a knee, and to stand tall against social injustice."

Russell, 83, was one of the most prominent social activists of his time. A participant in the Black Power Movement, he was the first NBA player to visit Africa in 1959 and supported Muhammad Ali’s decision to not serve in the Vietnam War. In addition, Russell became the first African-American head coach in professional sports history, when Red Auerbach named him coach of the Celtics in 1966. 

More than 200 NFL players took part in national demonstrations this week, after President Donald Trump called protesting athletes “sons of bitches” and advocated for their firing. Since then, Trump has unleashed more than 20 tweets about the matter.

President Barack Obama awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 for his accomplishments on and off the court. 

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