BOSTON, May 5 (UPI) -- Legendary Celtics center and civil rights activist Bill Russell will be honored with a statue in Boston, city officials said.
Plans for the statue accelerated after President Barack Obama invited Russell to the White House in February to award him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, saying, "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."
The Celtics Wednesday announced plans for the statue, seeking input from the community about potential sites, The Boston Globe reported Thursday.
"I think the president's comments certainly catalyzed a lot of thoughts and efforts that were going on in the city," Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca, who collaborated with Mayor Thomas Menino to honor Russell, told the newspaper.
"The mayor was in favor of this. The governor was in favor of this. We were looking at doing this. So I think those comments really helped catalyze this group coming together and continuing to work to get this done. Now it's going to become a reality.
"When the president talks, people listen.''
Russell helped the Celtics bring 11 NBA titles to Boston.