You Can Now Address Him as... ’Dr. Russell’
The National Basketball Association has had 'doctors' recognized and mentioned throughout history before... Dr. James Naismith, Dr. Jack Ramsey, "The Doctor" Julius Erving and even current Boston Celtics Head Coach, Glenn 'Doc' Rivers. But, as of Sunday June 5, 2005, we can all add Dr. William F. "Bill" Russell to that distinguished list.
At the 34th Commencement Exercises of Cambridge College, conducted in the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Boston, Boston Celtics legend, NBA superstar and Hall of Famer, Bill Russell, served as the commencement speaker and was the recipient of the Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the college. Joining Russell in receiving a Doctor of Humane Letters degree were Susan Rothenberg, a member of the Cambridge College Board of Trustees since 1994 and David H. Koch, Executive Vice President of Koch Industries, Inc.
Ms. Eileen Moran Brown, Chancellor and Founder of Cambridge College introduced Bill to the graduates, faculty, dignitaries, families and guests.
Russell, arguably the game of basketball's winningest player of all time, was dressed, not in familiar Celtics green and white this day, but red and black. He spoke for approximately 20 minutes and not a whisper could be heard throughout the spectacular athletic complex as Russell shared his thoughts and wisdom.
"I cannot tell you how proud and honored I am to be with you today, " Russell began. "You have really worked hard to get here today. You know, I have a great speech but I left it in the car... it read like a term paper." And, with that the capacity crowd chuckled.
Russell went on to say, "Maybe the most important lesson is...you've learned how to learn. You've acquired a great treasure. Don't put it away in a safe place. It is only as valuable as you know how to use it. Make life better than the life you were born into."
"Dr." Russell, much like he used to analyze and intimidate his opposition during his playing years, added, "Do not be afraid. Don't let someone else define you, what you can and cannot do. Do not be afraid to: dream, imagine and to listen. I have a wonderful daughter and she suggested that I needed a hearing aid. I said I don't need a hearing aid and I won't get one. After some debate, my daughter asked how come I wouldn't get one? I replied, I like what I don't hear just fine."
In closing, Bill Russell requested of his fellow graduates, "Join me and if you have the opportunity to make this place (our world) a better place - please do it! What you've done today is bring home back-to-back world championships."