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Bill Russell

Bill Russell

From Revulsion to Resurrection

(p.87) Bill Russell
Reconstructing Fame
Murry Nelson
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter explores the life and legacy of Bill Russell. In the 1960s Russell was considered as the most dominant player in basketball. However, he was largely disliked by many fans and the media due to his seemingly somber demeanor, his outspokenness, particularly on issues of race and racial equality, and his intimidating presence. Twenty years later, his public persona underwent a change. No longer viewed as aloof, he was seen as approachable and even revered, an insightful icon of the professional game and an impressionable culture. The chapter raises the following questions: Was it that Russell himself was changing, or was it perhaps part and parcel of a more widespread cultural shift? How was it possible that the world of sports and media could converge to construct a decidedly different view of Bill Russell than the guy Americans had once known?

Keywords:   athletes, reputations, sports figures, basketball players

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