A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Wheaties To Honor NBA Legend Bill Russell
The new Wheaties package, unveiled Friday at a press conference during NBA All-Star 2007 in Las Vegas, continues Wheaties’ tradition of honoring renowned African-American athletes for Black History Month, and in Russell’s case also the first African-American head coach/manager in American major league sports.
It also celebrates the greatest run in professional sports history – Russell’s eight consecutive titles and 11 overall titles in 13 seasons as the cornerstone of the storied Boston Celtics.
His reputation as the ultimate winner was established at the University of San Francisco, leading the Dons to back-to-back national championships after which he captained and led the U.S. basketball team to a gold medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
His leadership and success on and off the court continued over the years, evidenced by more championship rings than fingers on both hands, and the highest respect from players and fans alike.
As one of the greatest superstars in NBA history, Russell redefined the way the game is played, adopting a team effort above everything philosophy, and demonstrating how basketball can be won on the defensive end of the court.
His well-deserved individual accolades are impressive, including five NBA MVP Awards, 12 NBA All-Star selections, one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History and election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, to name a few.
“It’s an honor for me to join other great legends in many sports who have appeared on the Wheaties box through the years,” Russell said. “I’m pleased to be part of some truly remarkable company.”
“Bill Russell has distinguished himself as a basketball icon, not only having become one of the best players ever to have played the game, but universally acknowledged as the best team player to have played the game,” said Dan Stangler, Wheaties marketing.
“It’s only fitting that this legendary All-Star joins the Wheaties family at a great venue like NBA All-Star 2007 in Las Vegas.”
This marks the first Wheaties appearance for Russell. Other Wheaties Black History Month honorees have included Muhammad Ali, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Josh Gibson, Satchell Paige, James “Cool Papa” Bell, Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe, Walter Payton and Julius “Dr. J” Erving.
The new 18-ounce Wheaties package is now available nationally.
Following the closing of Boston Garden in the spring of 1995, Wheaties featured six legendary Celtics including coach Red Auerbach, Larry Bird, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, K.C. Jones, and JoJo White.
Celtics appearing individually on the Wheaties box over the years have included Bob Cousy (1956), K.C. Jones (1967) and Larry Bird (1993). In addition, John Havlicek appeared on the Wheaties box in 1972 as part of the NBA All-Star box.