NBA Legend Bill Russell Pays Tribute To The McClymonds High School Warriors
Golden State Warriors Players Jarrett Jack, Harrison Barnes, President/COO Rick Welts Attend Unveiling of School's Wall of Champions
On Tuesday, March 26, McClymonds High School lived up to its reputation as a basketball factory as NBA Legend Bill Russell visited his alma mater, speaking to the school's boys and girls basketball teams and unveiling the gym's new Wall of Champions. Along with the historical dedication, which honors the high school's rich basketball history, Russell and the Golden State Warriors Community Foundation unveiled the school's renovated team room, weight room and aerobics room.
"You have no idea what an honor it is to be invited back to McClymonds," said Russell. "I can truthfully say it is one of the highest honors I've ever had."
Russell shared stories with the student-athletes from his career and time as NBA Coach and ambassador, and shared words of wisdom that only an 11-time NBA champion, 2-time NCAA champion at USF and Olympic gold medalist could share. A private figure for much of his post-basketball career, Russell candidly shared the value of committing to the classroom and the court, ignoring stereotypes and trusting the people who matter the most.
"The key to all my success was the friendship of my teammates," Russell said. "We looked out for each other, and that's what you have to do in school. Look out for each other, because no one from the outside is going to look out for you."
Sitting beside Bill Russell during the unveiling was Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts, a member of the Seattle Supersonics organization when Russell served as head coach of the team from 1973-1977.
"Bill was really looking forward to this unveiling," Welts said. "The foundation that was set here at McClymonds High School gave him the start of what he achieved in life, and it's what he wanted to share with these kids."
Golden State players in attendance to honor their fellow high school Warriors were rookie swingman Harrison Barnes and veteran guard Jarrett Jack. Earlier in the day, Barnes and Jack were able to meet Russell when the NBA legend visited the Warriors Practice Facility and congratulate them on their victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
"This is kind of what you dream about, to enter the NBA and meet the person with the most wins to ever play this game," said Barnes. "Bill Russell could be anywhere in the world and he chose to come back to his high school and give back to these kids. It means a lot."
After assisting in the facilities unveiling, Barnes and Jack participated in a skills and shooting clinic with the McClymonds boys and girls basketball teams. The two ACC standouts then served as coaches in a scrimmage and saw firsthand how McClymonds High put state championship banners on the wall and are known as the "School of Champions".
"These kids are athletic," said Barnes. "Dunking off the backboard, crossing each other up. It's fun to watch."
The Wall of Champions unveiling served as one of the season highlights for the Warriors Community Foundation, which seeks to make a significant and long-lasting impact on under-served Bay Area youth. One community member who sees the impact of the day's event on the students is 17-year McClymonds varsity basketball coach Brandon Brooks.
"It's great to see something positive happen with McClymonds, not just basketball but as a family and community coming together to share some history, tradition and love with one of our own," said Brooks.