Bill Russell, one of the all-time greats of professional basketball, took a knee Monday in a gesture of solidarity with athletes protesting social injustice while wearing his Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The former Boston Celtics center tweeted a photo of himself looking into a camera as he knelt on the ground with the medal awarded to him by former President Barack Obama hanging around his neck.
‘Proud to take a knee, and to stand tall against social injustice,’ the 6-foot-10-inch NBA legend wrote in the photo caption.
He then added the hashtags #takeaknee, #medaloffreedom, #NFL, #BillRussell, #MSNBC.
The tweet was posted by a Twitter account titled ‘TheBillRussell’ though there is no avatar. Nor is there verification that the account belongs to Russell.
Sports and politics merged over the course of the last few days after President Donald Trump publicly denounced NFL players who kneel during the national anthem as a sign of protest.
Bill Russell, one of the all-time greats of professional basketball, took a knee Monday in a gesture of solidarity with athletes protesting social injustice while wearing his Presidential Medal of Freedom
Russell, the Boston Celtics legend, received the medal in 2011 from former President Barack Obama
Trump’s remarks angered athletes from professional football, basketball, and baseball.
Even musicians performing at concerts, like Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams, Eddie Vedder, Roger Waters, and Dave Matthews, went down on bended knee while on stage.
Trump defended his intense focus on the NFL protest issue – insisting at a White House press conference Tuesday that the topic was ‘very important’ and that he was not ‘preoccupied’ with it.
He called kneeling during the National Anthem, as players have done during games, ‘disgraceful,’ and invoked grievously injured American troops who served their country to bolster his view.
‘I wasn’t preoccupied with the NFL. I was ashamed of what was taking place,’ he said, asked if the focus had come at the expense of the Puerto Rico response.
Trump brought up the issue at a Friday night rally, and kept up criticism on Twitter since.
‘Because to me that was a very important moment. I don’t think you can disrespect our country, our flag, our National Anthem. To me, the NFL situation is a very important situation,’ the president said.
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, where he said he wasn’t ‘preoccupied’ with NFL protests
Pictured is the entire Dallas Cowboys team, including its owner Jerry Jones, kneeling with linked arms before the national anthem is sung at the game between the Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Arizona
‘I have plenty of time on my hands. All I do is work,’ the president said, defending his crusade. ‘And to be honest with you, that’s an important function of working. It’s called respect for our country.’
‘Many people have died, many, many people. Many people are so horribly injured. I was at Walter Reed hospital recently and I saw so many great young people and they’re missing legs and they’re missing arms and they’ve been so badly injured. And they were fighting for our country. They were fighting for our flag. They were fighting for our national anthem.’
He continued: ‘And for people to disrespect that by kneeling during the playing of our national anthem I think is disgraceful.’
On Tuesday morning, Trump – yet again – waded into the NFL protest debate, this time calling attention to the moves of the Dallas Cowboys last night.
‘The booing at the NFL football game last night, when the entire Dallas team dropped to its knees, was loudest I have ever heard,’ the president said, adding, ‘Great anger.’
Trump then suggested that ratings for the games are ‘way down’ – ‘except before the game starts, when people tune in to see whether or not our country will be disrespected!’
‘But while Dallas dropped to its knees as a team, they all stood up for our National Anthem. Big progress being made-we all love our country!’ Trump noted.
At an away game in Arizona, the entire Dallas Cowboys NFL team, including owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett, dropped to their knees prior to the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, in a move that showed solidarity for the football players who have been kneeling to protest racial inequality.
Billionaire Jones, who gave $1million to Trump’s inauguration festivities, had said nothing about the president’s comments over the weekend.