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Bill Russell “Wall of Champions” Unveiling
March 27, 2013
On March 26, NBA Hall-of-Famer and McClymonds High School graduate Bill Russell, along with the Golden State Warriors and the Warriors Community Foundation, visited McClymonds High School in Oakland to unveil the gym’s new “Wall of Champions”.
The Bill Russell “Wall of Champions” honors the excellence of previous McClymonds teams and pays tribute to the rich legacy of the school’s basketball program. (L-R: Warriors President and COO Rick Welts; Harrison Barnes; McClymonds Principal Kevin Taylor; Bill Russell; VP, Public Affairs & Event Management and Executive Director, Warriors Community Foundation Gail Hunter; Jim Barnett; Jarrett Jack. Not Pictured: Varsity Basketball Coach Brandon Brooks.)
Along with the historical dedication, Russell and the Golden State Warriors Community Foundation unveiled the school’s renovated team room, weight room and aerobics room.
McClymonds High School, known as the “School of Champions” for its history of athletic excellence and notable basketball alumni, has experienced budget cutbacks that have prevented a proper honor for its athletic history until now.
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 congratulated the team 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.”
Russell also attended the Warriors – Kings game on Wednesday night, sitting courtside with NBA legend and Warriors Executive Board Member Jerry West and Warriors CEO Joe Lacob.
During a time out, the two NBA legends received a standing ovation from the fans as well as the Warriors' and Kings' players and staff.
Being back in Oakland was very special for Russell: “You have no idea what an honor it is to be invited back to McClymonds. I can truthfully say it is one of the highest honors I’ve ever had.”
The Bill Russell “Wall of Champions” Unveiling tipped-off with a welcome from McClymonds High School Principal Kevin Taylor, who invited two captains from the Men’s Basketball team up to present Bill with an honorary McClymonds hat and shirt to show their appreciation.
Youth from McClymonds Men and Women’s basketball team, alumni and neighbors from the local community were in attendance for this very special event.
Warriors TV Analyst, Jim Barnett introduced everyone on the dais and said a few kind words about Bill Russell and what he learned from him as a teammate and friend.
He then asked everyone to draw their attention to the video clip of “Mr. Russell’s House”, which really helped set the tone for the afternoon.
Rick Welts, who was a member of the Seattle Supersonics organization when Russell served as head coach of the team from 1973-1977, was honored to introduce Russell to the McClymonds boys and girls basketball teams. “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.”
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. His message really resonated well with all of the players.
Right before the unveiling, Russell spoke about his time at the school from 1949-1953 and what the “Wall of Champions” means to him.
In addition to the “Wall of Champions”, students and guests viewed the newly renovated team room, weight room and aerobics room.
The school received new paint, basketball nets, photos, logos and inspirational quotes for the team room, weight room and the aerobics room located inside the gymnasium.
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.”
All of the players received a Warriors jacket and magazine to remember the event.
Russell conducted the honorary tip-off of the clinic and interacted with the team members during the event.
After the event, Jim Barnett interviewed Bill Russell.
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.
A special thanks to Warriors Foundation for sponsoring the event as well as BayCal Painting and Bay Contract Maintenance, Inc. who donated their time and resources to give the gymnasium a new look and make this event a great success.
Enjoy more photos from the unveiling of the Bill Russell "Wall of Champions".