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The NBA’s first boycott took place in Lexington and was led by Bill Russell

(Paul J. Maguire/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

(Paul J. Maguire/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

This week there has been plenty of news surrounding the boycott of NBA playoff games by players in response to the shooting of Wisconsin man Jacob Blake by local police.

Beginning with the Milwaukee Bucks sitting out Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, leading to the entire league participating in a days-long boycott, the move was unprecedented and has caused quite a bit of commotion among fans, players, and media members, with NBA broadcaster Kenny Smith also participating in a walk-out.

However, this is not the first time NBA players have participated in a boycott seeking racial justice within the league and elsewhere.

In fact, the first NBA boycott, led by Bill Russell in 1961, has roots right in Lexington, KY. 

Russell, who has vocally been in support of the most recent boycott, led a similar movement after fellow Boston Celtics team members Sam Jones and Thomas “Satch” Sanders were refused service in a coffee shop in Lexington before a match between the Celtics and the now-defunct St. Louis Hawks.

A Hawks player, Cleo Hill, was revealed to have suffered the same treatment in Lexington, and before they knew it, a boycott was born. Russell, along with other Black teammates of both the Celtics and Hawks, left the next day.

Hill never played in the NBA again after the protest regarding the game in Lexington, resigning to a fate similar to that of a recent NFL player who you might be familiar with.

With recent protests coming from Kentucky Football, who have the full support of Mark Stoops, and the addition of the recent NBA playoff boycotts, it seems as if sports figures are no longer prepared to be silent.

Bill Russell never was, and salutes those like him who have gotten into “good trouble”. As Josh Paschal pointed out, they are in fact “more than athletes”. 

Maybe Lexington is a breeding ground for change?

Who knows?

[Washington Post]

Article written by Abbigale Harrison

Covering KY news from DC. This should be fun. Twitter: @theabbiharrison

10 Comments for The NBA’s first boycott took place in Lexington and was led by Bill Russell



  1. UK_fac_boi
    1:28 pm August 30, 2020 Permalink

    Bill Russell is the G.O.A.T



  2. runningunnin.454
    1:47 pm August 30, 2020 Permalink

    I remember that (yep, I’m a hunnert years old haha). Frank Ramsey played for the Celtics, and Cliff Hagan played for the Hawks. The coffee shop was actually in the hotel where they were staying, the old Phoenix.
    However, the Hawks franchise is not defunct…they just moved to Atlanta; could be the same thing…the Hawks’ only nba title was when they were in St. Louis.



  3. Reese Davis
    2:22 pm August 30, 2020 Permalink

    Thank you KSR for shoving political nonsense in my face every time I get on here. Comparing the 1961 protests to now is a major disservice to those who fought for equal rights during that time period.



  4. crazycatfan65
    2:57 pm August 30, 2020 Permalink

    Funny how the liberal double standards and hypocrisy shines brightly when the tables are turned. What’s wrong with these players, they can dish it out but can’t take it when they are given the same treatment as they give others they don’t like or agree with? Since 2016, liberals across the country have shown their double standards, hypocrisy and fascism. Every time someone says something they don’t like or agree with it, specially when they speak the truth, liberals scream racist, bigot, etc., demean, shame and even go out of their way to get a person fired from their job. They voice their opinions and demand everyone to listen but when it comes back on them, they demand respect and to be heard. Double standards and hypocrisy at it’s finest. LeBron James fans the flames of racism as much if not more then David Dukes. Try changing the black culture with their “F” the police and thug life mentality, learn a little respect and how to follow orders and they may just live a little longer.



    • UKFanSC
      4:29 pm August 30, 2020 Permalink

      Well said. Sickening to watch the liberals try take the moral high ground while they burn, kill, steal, and threaten.
      A couple of months from now, when all of you Black Lives Matter weenies are sitting in your crying circle trying to determine how Trump got reelected, just turn on CNN or ESPN. Better yet, look in the mirror.



  5. CrystalBall
    4:35 pm August 30, 2020 Permalink

    Would like to see LaBron on a three week ride tour with cops in a major city hugh crime area. Would he have second thoughts?



    • CrystalBall
      4:36 pm August 30, 2020 Permalink

      Cottection, HIGH crime area.



    • CrystalBall
      4:40 pm August 30, 2020 Permalink

      Sorry folks. CORRECTION, Recently underwent eye surgery. Still recovering. Excuse my errors.



    • UKFanSC
      5:42 pm August 30, 2020 Permalink

      You’re seeing things pretty damned well from what you’ve posted.



  6. JustIce95
    2:43 am August 31, 2020 Permalink

    The problem with this country isn’t “Liberals”. It’s the fact that neither side will listen to each other. Instead of working out problems and taking responsibility, everyone would rather blame everyone else. It’s sickening to see people place all the blame on the left or right. We have lost compassion in this world. There is no empathy.