The NBA Players boycott of Wednesday’s playoff games caught many by surprise and mostly in a good way.

Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell tweeted a powerful statement on Wednesday expressing his support for the NBA players’ boycott. Russell said that he was “moved” by the gesture and “so proud” of the players. He also applauded Kenny Smith for walking off the set of “Inside the NBA” in solidarity. Russell then closed his statement by quoting the late Congressman John Lewis.

The NBA decided to postpone all three of Wednesday’s playoff games after the Milwaukee Bucks — the NBA’s team from Wisconsin, a state rocked in recent days by the shooting by police officers of Jacob Blake.


Russell’s former team the Celtics tweeted “#JusticeForJacobBlake” and shared the phone numbers for Kenosha District Attorney Michael D. Graveley, Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian and the Wisconsin Department of Justice on the team’s Twitter account.

Russell isn’t just an icon in sports but of the civil rights movement as well.

The 86-year-old often faced racism during his playing career in Boston and was at the forefront of the efforts for social change in the 1960s and onward. In fact, Russell helped orchestrate the most recent and only other time that NBA players have boycotted a game back in 1961.

Game recognizes game and today’s athletes, especially in the NBA, are carrying on the tradition of making their voices heard on and off the court.