Netflix’s Bill Russell Doc Looks at Impact of NBA Legend’s Off-Court Activism

Bill Russell: Legend Documentary (Credit: Netflix)

Bill Russell was a force both on and off the court.

The late NBA legend is the subject of a new Netflix documentary titled Bill Russell: Legend, which premieres Feb. 8. The film includes one of Russell’s final interviews before he passed away last summer at age 88.

In a preview clip, the NBA champion and Civil Rights activist recalls meeting with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and attending the 1963 March on Washington.

“He invited me to go on stage and I respectfully declined,” Russell says before explaining why he didn’t think it was appropriate to take a front row seat at the historic gathering.

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The two-part film is made in cooperation with Russell’s estate and includes interviews with Steph Curry, Chris Paul, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kenny Smith.

“The era that Russell played basketball, the world is in a different type of turmoil. It wasn’t lose your job, lose your career, it was lose your life,” Smith says.

The film comes from Emmy-winning director Sam Pollard (MLK/FBI and Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me). Producers include Larry Gordon, Ross Greenburg, and Mike Richardson.

Here’s the official description: “From the humblest of beginnings, Russell went on to lead each and every one of his basketball teams to Championships — two California State High School Championships, two back-to-back NCAA titles, a Gold Medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, and 11 championship titles in his thirteen-year career as a Boston Celtic (his last two as the first Black Head Coach in NBA history, while still playing for the Celtics). Bill’s story is innately and uniquely intertwined with the 75-year history of the NBA, and the story of America’s last 8 decades.”

Bill Russell: Legend begins streaming globally Feb. 8 on Netflix.

Watch the preview clip below.