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Sports

Russell was a champion of activism before winning NBA titles

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By Kyle Hightower in Boston

BOSTON (AP) — Bill Russell never had to find his voice as an activist. He didn’t know any other way but to speak his mind.

It’s what made the winningest athlete in team sports one of the greatest champions of activism. His belief in equality and the stances he took helped create a pathway that athletes today continue to walk in.

Len Elmore, who played 10 seasons in the NBA and is a senior lecturer at Columbia University where he’s taught on athlete activism and social justice in sports, called Russell’s social contributions “immortal.”

“He showed many of us in the game how to be,” Elmore said.

Before Russell, who died Sunday at age 88, developed the skills that would make him an 11-time NBA champion with the Boston Celtics, two-time Hall of Famer and an Olympic gold medalist, he had a front row view of the racial indignities endured by his parents as he grew up in segregated Monroe, Louisiana.

In a time when Jim Crow laws in the South existed to silence the views of Black people, he was groomed to be an unapologetic thinker.

“I have never worked to be well-liked or well-loved, but only to be respected,” Russell wrote in his 1966 book “Go Up For Glory.” “I believe I can contribute something far more important than mere basketball.”

That conviction was rooted in what he observed as a child in the late 1930s and early 1940s in Louisiana, where his father, Charles, worked at a paper bag company.

Russell was with him at a gas station one day when the attendant ignored them as he talked to a white man and then proceeded to provide service to other cars that had arrived after them.

Charles was about to drive off when the attendant pulled a gun and said, “Don’t you try that, boy, unless you want to get shot,” Russell recalled in his book.

His father responded by grabbing a tire iron and chasing the man away.

Decades before Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem demonstrations to raise awareness about police brutality, or the collective sports world advocating for justice following the 2020 death of George Floyd and others, Russell used his platform to hasten civil rights.

It’s why when Russell later faced his own forms of discrimination decades later, he didn’t hesitate to challenge the status quo.

One of the first examples was 1961 when the Celtics were in Lexington, Kentucky for an exhibition game.

The team was in their hotel when teammates Sam Jones asked Satch Sanders to go to the lobby to get some food. They were refused service.

Later they were met by Russell and K.C. Jones. After Sam told them what had happened, Russell suggested none of the Black players should participate in the game and informed Celtics coach Red Auerbach.

The game would be called off after two more players from the St. Louis Hawks joined the protest.

When former President Barack Obama presented Russell with the Presidential Medial of Freedom in 2011, he called it an example of how he “stood up for rights and dignity of all men.”

Russell didn’t just risk sullying his reputation, he put his life at risk in the wake of the 1963 assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi. Just days after Evers was slain, Russell reached out to the leader’s brother, Charles Evers. He wanted to inquire about what he could do to help.

Charles Evers asked him if he’d be willing to visit the state and stage its first integrated basketball camp. It was a huge ask considering the very real peril Russell would be putting himself in by visiting a city riddled members of the Ku Klux Klan. Still, Russell accepted the invitation.

“I didn’t want to go to Mississippi. I was like anyone else. I was afraid I might get killed,” Russell would later write. “My wife asked me not to go. Some friends said the same thing. A man must do what he thinks is right. I called Eastern Airlines and ordered my ticket.”

Despite coming off his third MVP award and fifth NBA title, Russell said “without hesitation” he’d have left the Celtics that season if his continued presence in Mississippi or anywhere else could have advanced civil rights push.

“If my popularity depends on a thing like this, I don’t give a damn,” he said at the time.

A star of Russell’s stature to show a willingness to put his convictions ahead of his athletic career put him in a small group during that time like Muhammad Ali, Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Jim Brown.

And it was Russell, Alcindor and Brown sitting beside Ali in Cleveland in 1967 when the boxer announced he was refusing induction into the U.S. military to fight in the Vietnam War.

Current Celtics star Jaylen Brown, one of several young NBA players who have used their own platforms to raise awareness and engage in social justice protests, said it was Russell who first taught him “it is OK to be more than just a basketball player.”

It echoed what Russell wrote in 1966 about how he wished to be remembered.

“In the end, I live with the hopes that when I die it will be inscribed for me: Bill Russell. He was a man.”

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Alberta

Join us for our 2023 Induction Ceremony

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Our 2023 Induction Ceremony will be on Friday, May 26th at the Red Deer Polytechnic Cenovus Centre. Cocktails and appetizers will begin at 5:30 pm, with the ceremony starting at 6:30 pm. The class of 2023 is as follows:
Athletes
Andrew Buckley-Football
Mike Johnson-Baseball
Helen Upperton-Bobsleigh
Builders
Cara Currie Hall-Multisport
Allan Ferchuk-Multisport
Greg Peterson-Football
Lyn Radford-Multisport

Teams
Old Grizzlys 1991-1994-Hockey

Awards
Wilf Brooks-Achievement –Hockey
Mark Stephen-Bell Memorial – Radio Broadcaster
Dr. Marcus Dunsworth-Pioneer- Multisport

Tickets are $80 or $50 for Honoured Members. You can purchase your tickets by clicking on the link below.

If you have any questions or need help purchasing tickets, please call 403-341-8614.

Induction Ceremony Tickets

Honoured Member Cody Snyder to be Inducted into the Bull Riding Hall of Fame

Honoured Member Cody Snyder will be the first Canadian inducted into the Bull Riding Hall of Fame.

Cody started riding junior steers in rodeo competitions when he was eight years old, and at twelve, he finally rode his first bull. By the age of fifteen, Cody was the Canadian Amateur Bull Riding Champion. Through 1980 and 1981, Cody gained the experience he needed to lead the Canadian Professional Rodeo Bull Riding standings in 1982. He was nineteen years old. He was inducted into our Hall in 2002 as a Rodeo Athlete.

Learn more about this story by following the link below.

Cody Snyder Article
This newsletter is sponsored by the RBC Foundation.

 Honoured Member Highlight – Allan Coulter

Volleyball Athlete – Inducted in 1997

Allan Coulter was a member of Canada’s National Men’s Volleyball Team from 1979 to 1992.  He competed in over 700 international volleyball matches and was selected as Team Captain from 1988 – 1992.  He competed in both the 1984 Summer Olympics and the 1992 Summer Olympics.  He was described as the ‘quickest hitting middle blocker’ Canada has ever had.  Allan continued to compete with the Calgary ‘Canuck Volleyball Stuff’ and became the spokesman, leader and role model for Canada’s National Team Program.

Honoured Member Profile

Provincial Sport Organization: Volleyball Alberta

Their primary goal is to promote and develop volleyball at all levels throughout Alberta.  Volleyball Alberta services the needs of its membership which consists of athletes, coaches, officials, and anyone interested in the sport of volleyball in the province.

Artifact in Focus!

F. E. Osborne Memorial Trophy: Tuxis Junior League Champions, Operated by Calgary Tuxis Coucil, Annual Competition. 1949-1957.

Honoured Member Dr. David Legg Teaches Adaptive Sports to Elementary Students

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame partnered with Calgary Adaptive Hub and Honoured Member Dr. David Legg to teach students about adaptive sports.

Professor at the Mount Royal University department of Health and Physical Education, David is an engaging lecturer and supports his students in finding practical experience working with individuals with disabilities in adapted sport. He has devoted his life as a volunteer in sport for athletes with a disability at the provincial, national and international level. He was inducted in 2022 as a Paralympic/Multisport Builder.

Honoured Member Profile
Thank You Northern Alberta Curling Championship Society!

We want to give a huge shout-out to the Northern Alberta Curling Championship Society for sponsoring a new interactive for the Hall. The new curling rink is a great addition to our space.

If you or your organization would like to sponsor a new interactive for the Hall, please email us at [email protected] or call 403-341-8614.

Donate Now

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame needs your support to continue the ongoing preservation of Alberta’s sports history and the development of museum exhibits. We are grateful and appreciative of the generosity of our supporters and friends. We would be happy to assist you in choosing how your personal legacy will be fulfilled and the many options available. Here is some information on donating shares to ASHFM and the benefits to you as a donor.

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Sports

Tom Brady retires at 45, insisting this time it’s ‘for good’

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady, who won a record seven Super Bowls for New England and Tampa, has announced his retirement.

Brady — the most successful quarterback in NFL history, and one of the greatest athletes in team sports — posted the announcement on social media Wednesday morning, a brief video lasting just under one minute.

“Good morning guys. I’ll get to the point right away,” Brady says as the message begins. “I’m retiring. For good.”

He briefly retired after the 2021 season but wound up coming back for one more year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He retires at age 45, the owner of numerous passing records in an unprecedented 23-year career.

A year ago when he retired, it was in the form of a long Instagram post. But about six weeks later, he decided to come back for one more run. The Buccaneers — with whom he won a Super Bowl two seasons ago — made the playoffs again this season, losing in their playoff opener. And at the time, it begged the question about whether Brady would play again.

Only a couple of weeks later, he has given the answer.

“I know the process was a pretty big deal last time, so when I woke up this morning, I figured I’d just press record and let you guys know first,” Brady says in the video. “I won’t be long-winded. You only get one super emotional retirement essay and I used mine up last year.

“I really thank you guys so much, to every single one of you for supporting me. My family, my friends, teammates, my competitors. I could go on forever. There’s too many. Thank you guys for allowing me to live my absolute dream. I wouldn’t change a thing. Love you all.”

Brady is the NFL’s career leader in yards passing (89,214) and touchdowns (649). He is the only player to win more than five Super Bowls and has been MVP of the game five times.

Brady announced his retirement one day after attending the premiere of “80 for Brady” — which comes out Friday — in Los Angeles. The movie tells the story of four lifelong friends, played by Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno and Sally Field, who went to a Super Bowl to see Brady play.

He was asked Tuesday night whether he felt a connection working with women — the four stars range in age from 76 to 91 — who don’t want to retire.

“They’re working hard and they love it. So good for them,” Brady told The Associated Press. “You know, it’s just that’s what life is about. You got to, you know, wake up every day with a purpose. And when you find something you love to do, you know, it’s hard to stop. You really enjoy it. And there’s a lot of aspects that you do enjoy. So they still bring it at this age. It’s really unbelievable to watch them on set and how much energy they have. And I certainly was inspired by them and learned a lot of lessons on this whole experience.”

Famously underrated coming into the NFL — he was picked 199th in the 2000 draft by the Patriots, behind six other quarterbacks, three kickers and a punter — Brady certainly wasn’t expected to become synonymous with greatness. He played in one game as a rookie, completing one of three passes for six yards.

The next year, it all changed.

Brady took over as the Patriots’ starter, the team beat the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl that capped the 2001 season and he and New England coach Bill Belichick were well on their way to becoming the most successful coach-QB duo in football history.

More Super Bowl wins came after the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The Patriots returned to football’s mountaintop for a fourth time in Brady’s era a decade later to cap the 2014 season, the start of three more titles in a span of five years.

In 2020, he joined the Buccaneers and won his seventh Super Bowl. He spent his last three years with Tampa Bay, getting them to the playoffs in each of those seasons.

“I think I’ve been on the record dozens of times saying there’s no quarterback I’d rather have than Tom Brady, and I still feel that way,” Belichick said in 2021 — shortly before Tampa Bay, with Brady, came to New England and beat the Patriots in a game dubbed “The Return.” “I was very lucky to have Tom as the quarterback, to coach him, and he was as good as any coach could ever ask for.”

Brady has won three NFL MVP awards, has been a first-team All-Pro three times and was selected to the Pro Bowl 15 times.

Brady and model Gisele Bündchen finalized their divorce this past fall, during the Bucs’ season. It ended a 13-year marriage between two superstars who respectively reached the pinnacles of football and fashion.

It was announced last year that when Brady retires from playing, he would join Fox Sports as a television analyst in a 10-year, $375 million deal.

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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