NBA Hall of Famer says gay athletes face same question black athletes once faced

Bill Russell
Bill Russell AP

AUSTIN, Texas — NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell says the fight for equality for gay athletes reminds him of the civil rights movement of African-Americans in the 1960s.

Russell, who won 11 NBA championships with the Boston Celtics, and NFL Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, spoke Wednesday at a civil rights summit hosted at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

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Both men were key figures as athletes and leaders of the civil rights struggles of the era.

Russell says the questions about whether gay athletes can be good teammates or would disrupt a locker room are the same questions black athletes heard back then.

Russell said he’d have one question about a gay teammate: Can he play?

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