Bill Russell Takes Knee Wearing Presidential Medal of Freedom

AP reporters counted more than 200 NFL players who did not stand during the national anthem before their games on Sunday. Six refused to stand the week before, mainly protesting police brutality. (Published Monday, Sept. 25, 2017)

A photo of basketball Hall of Famer and Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell kneeling while wearing his Presidential Medal of Freedom surfaced on social media Monday in an apparent gesture of solidarity to the sports world's reaction to President Donald Trump's comments on protesting NFL players.

"Proud to take a knee, and to stand tall against social injustice. #takeaknee #medaloffreedom #NFL #BillRussell #MSNBC," read the caption under a photo posted on an unverified Twitter account listed under Russell's name.

The account was created earlier this month and only had one previous tweet before the photo was posted. It was not clear if the account belongs to Russell.

The 83-year-old was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 2011 by President Barack Obama. The civil rights activist has long fought for human rights and became the first black man to coach an NBA team.

See It: NFL Players Protest After Trump's Criticism Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (97) and Atlanta Falcons tackle Dontari Poe (92) kneel during the playing of the national anthem prior to the start of the game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Detroit Lions on Sept. 24, 2017 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Russell played for the Celtics from 1956-1969. The 11-time NBA champion later coached the Seattle SuperSonics and Sacramento Kings.

Trump's urging of NFL team owners to fire or suspend players who don't stand for the national anthem led to more than 200 players protesting, many kneeling, during the "Star Spangled Banner" at football games over the weekend. Owners, coaches, former players, celebrities and other athletes also joined gestures of solidarity and condemned the president's comments.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James spoke Monday about the NFL protest saying President Trump is trying to divide the nation.

(Published Monday, Sept. 25, 2017)