Bill Russell statue unveiling canceled due to weather

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

High winds in Boston will cancel the formal unveiling of Boston Celtics great Bill Russell's statue, but it will be viewable to the public later in the afternoon.

The statue of Boston Celtics great Bill Russell will be unveiled on Friday afternoon but will not be uncovered at the planned unveiling ceremony at Boston's City Hall Plaza because of high winds, according to the Boston Globe. The mayor's office told the newspaper a private ceremony was still planned as wind gusts expected to reach 50 mph.

The Globe's Baxter Holmes reports the public will be able to view the statue after 1:30 p.m. ET.

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A statue by sculptor Ann Hirsch was designed for Russell, who won 11 championships with the Celtics in his 13 seasons playing basketball. Russell, a five-time MVP and 12-time All-Star, already has his No. 6 jersey retired but a statue seemed long overdue.

As SB Nation's Paul Flannery wrote in 2010 for Boston Magazine, it's not just about the basketball accomplishments.

Throughout his life, Russell has spoken out about injustice and has stood firm in the face of withering racism. A man of both action and intellect, he is an author and an art collector whose favorite childhood refuge was not the gym but the public library. Russell was, and is, a Renaissance man in full. As the author and social activist Dave Zirin puts it: "Bill Russell is on the Mount Rushmore of great athletes who made a difference. He's there with Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, and Arthur Ashe. That's Bill Russell's legacy."

A long list of stars was expected to attend the formal ceremony that was cancelled. NBA commissioner David Stern, and well-known players Bill Walton, Charles Barkley, George Gervin, Clyde Drexler and Julius Erving were expected. President Barack Obama got an early glimpse at the statue on Thursday.

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