Boston University Professor’s Latest Book Chronicles NBA Legend’s Triumph Over Race Issues On And Off The Court

in College of General Studies, Humanities/Social Science, News Releases
December 1st, 2003

Contact: Tom Testa, 617/353-2240 |

(Boston, Mass.) — Over the course of an historic 13-year, highly decorated NBA career Bill Russell was as fierce a competitor off the court as he was on it, especially when battling Boston’s turbulent struggles with race and civil rights issues. In his new book, Dynasty’s End: Bill Russell and the 1968-69 World Champion Boston Celtics, Thomas J. Whalen, assistant professor of social science at Boston University, chronicles Russell’s memorable last season as a member of the Boston Celtics, set against the backdrop of the chaotic late 1960s.
“I wanted to write a book about Bill Russell and that Celtic team because its lessons go beyond athletic accomplishment,” said Whalen. “The Celtics were in the forefront of efforts to integrate their sport, beginning in 1950, when they were the first team in NBA history to pick a black player in the draft.”
Russell experienced racism growing up in Monroe, La., as well as strained relations between black and white players while in college on his University of San Francisco basketball team. In Boston, he was a proponent of desegregated schools and criticized the NBA for what he considered discriminatory hiring practices. “He wasn’t like other professional athletes of his day,” says Whalen. “He spoke his mind.”
With a forward written by former U.S. Senator and New York Knickerbocker Bill Bradley, along with interviews from Celtic and NBA legends such as Red Auerbach, Johnny Most, John Havlicek, Tom “Satch” Sanders, Tom Heinsohn, Walt Frazier, and Dave DeBusschere, Dynasty’s End recounts how Russell transformed the game of basketball during his remarkable career and revisits the outspoken superstar’s conflicted relationship with Boston.
Author of Kennedy versus Lodge: The 1952 Massachusetts Senate Race, Whalen has written for numerous publications, including The Boston Globe. He will discuss his new book at Barnes & Noble at Boston University on Thursday, December 4, 2003 at 7 p.m.
Russell was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Boston University at the 2002 commencement exercises.

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