FROM OUR SABBATICAL INTERIM PASTOR
Rev. Tim Boeve
August 7, 2022
Dear FCC Community,
Perhaps you saw the news about the death of Bill Russell, a legend on the basketball court for both the University of San Francisco Dons and the Boston Celtics in the National Basketball Association. In case the news passed you by, Russell died this past Sunday (July 31) at the age of 88. When I was a kid, I used to love watching Russell and his Celtic teammates square off against Wilt Chamberland and the Philadelphia 76ers, even though I was a Detroit Pistons fan, with not much to cheer about from my team during those days.
Even though I was too young to know about the kind of man Russell was off the court, I could see just by watching him play that he was an unselfish team player, not concerned with anything other than helping his team win, which they did, a lot—11 championships in 13 years—with Russell as their center and then as player coach in his last two seasons with the Celtics. He was the first black NBA coach.
Russell played in the era of professional sports when players usually stayed with the same club for their entire careers, so kids like me really got to cherish our home team sports heroes. Athletes like Russell, however, commanded respect and admiration from spectators no matter their home club. Reading about his accomplishments, both on and off the court, only served to further endear him to my memory. I recalled when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama but hadn’t been keenly aware of Russell’s support for the rights of African Americans in the early days of the civil rights movement.
When individuals like Russell excel in their chosen endeavor, achieve wide-spread fame, and then use their influence in service of a cause beyond his or herself, the movement toward justice is super-charged, so to speak. (Billie Jean King the female tennis legend and her championing of gender equality in sports and later of LGBTQ+ rights comes quickly to mind.) May the death of Russell serve not only as a moment to honor his life, wish his family well, and feel grateful for his contribution, but also stir up courage and conscious action for doing good work in others whose God-given talent and personal hard work thrust them into public awareness.