Bill Russell’s appearance on spy television

Logo for It Takes a Thief

Bill Russell, one of the greatest players in the National Basketball Association, has died at 88, according to The New York Times.

The center for the Boston Celtics from the 1950s to the end of the 1960s, won 11 NBA championships over a 13-year career.

A footnote to Russell’s stellar basketball career was a part in the 1960s spy series It Takes a Thief where Robert Wagner was the star. The episode was titled The Thingamabob Heist in 1968.

In real life, Russell (1934-2022) was an important sports figure and an important civil rights figure. In addition to playing for the Celtics, he was the team’s first Black head coach toward the end of his career.

Here is an excerpt from the Times’ obituary for Russell:

He took part in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and was seated in the front row of the crowd to hear the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech. He went to Mississippi after the civil rights activist Medgar Evers was murdered and worked with Evers’s brother, Charles, to open an integrated basketball camp in Jackson. He was among a group of prominent Black athletes who supported Muhammad Ali when Ali refused induction into the armed forces during the Vietnam War.