Obama gets advance look at Bill Russell statue with NBA legend himself

President Obama got a sneak-peek at a statue of Bill Russell on his way to a healthcare event in Boston Wednesday.

A White House official confirmed the early viewing of the statue honoring the former Celtics star. The statue will formally be unveiled on Friday in Boston’s City Hall Plaza. 

[mosads}Russell, 79, is a legend in Boston sports, and received the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. During the White House ceremony, Obama said, “I hope that one day in the streets of Boston, children will look up at a statue built not only to Bill Russell the player, but Bill Russell the man.”

Obama’s words carried some weight. Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca said, “I think the president’s comments certainly catalyzed a lot of thoughts and efforts that were going on in the city.”

“I think those comments really helped bring the Bill Russell Legacy Project committee members together to get this statue done. It’s so exciting because now it’s become a reality.”

Russell is one of the country’s most successful athletes—winning two college titles, an Olympic gold medal and 11 NBA championships playing for the Boston Celtics.

He lives on Mercer Island in the Seattle area.