I have saved this excerpt from Heinsohn, Don't You Ever Smile by Tommy Heinsohn as a bridge between the last part of the series on Red Auerbach's On and Off the Court and Second Wind by Bill Russell.
I think it was in Charlotte, North Carolina, that they made the black players stay in a black hotel. Walter Brown had promised Russell he never would be placed in such a humiliating position, but there had been a mixup in communications or something. Russell and the others played the game under the circumstances, but Russ talked to Red and Walter Brown and was assured it never would happen again. There was more to come. A couple of years later, in the 1961-62 season, we went to Marion, Indiana, for an exhibition game. Marion was about 100 to 150 miles from Chicago and considered a northern city. At least, I would consider it northern coming from New Jersey. We got to town and they give us a fabulous reception with banquet attached. The mayer was there to greet us, and many of the fifty thousand residents had taken time to cheer the champions of the NBA. We were all pleased by the warm, sincere display of hospitality. Everyone was given a key to the city - a wooden one, painted gold with "welcome" inscribed on it. Under those circumstances, we assumed we were welcome. I have since learned what many have tried to teach me in many ways: Do not assume anything. "Oh gee, my first key to the city," said some of the guys. Some were kidding, some were serious. We played the game at a high school and then went to the hotel, dropped off our bags, and headed for the only eating place open. It was sort of a club or cafe. Not the most elegant place. Frankly, it was a one armed joint with a juke box. I think I was with Cousy, Sharman, and Ramsey. We got there first and the others wandered over in groups. We were just finishing our food when Russell walked in with Carl Braun and KC Jones. The guy at the bar wouldn't let them eat. Right place, wrong color for Russ and KC. We noticed the conversation but didn't know what it was about. Russell and KC left and Braun came to our table ripping mad. "Some damn place this is," he shouted. "Marion, Indiana. They gave us a banquet, the keys to the city. Everything's beautiful but they won't let Russ and KC eat here because they're black." Carl began looking around as though he were going to remodel the place. "Let's find out where the Mayor lives," he suggested, "and give him back his goddamn keys. I'm going to tell him to shove it." It was around 12:30 AM and our only regret was that it wasn't three or four in the morning once we agreed with Carl. We filled two cabs with black and white players. Braun was the leader because it was his idea, so he knocked on the door. The mayor opened it and we obviously had awakened him. That was good. "Mayor, I'm Carl Braun from the Boston Celtics," said Carl. "I am here with some of my teammates, and we would like you to take the keys you gave us today and shove them..." Unfortunately the mayor was not about to be that accomodating. He did express his regret, which meant nothing to Russell, who already led the league in regrets. Our next game was in Lexington, Kentucky, and our black players ran into northern hospitality, southern style, right on top of Marion, Indiana. Before I recall what happened, I think this is the time to say that for the nine years I played with the Celtics, there was only one instance where a player yelled at another player. Just one incident in all those years, and it was an innocent mistake that could have become a serious problem if Auerbach had not nipped it and we didn't have people who took time to understand. It was before a playoff game in St. Louis, where the dressing rooms in Kiel Auditorium were built for show business, not sports. They were small with big mirrors and an edging of light bulbs for entertainers to make up. Gene Guarilia was getting dressed in one with Sam Jones. Guarilia, a fine player but a reserve on the ball club, got involved in a conversation with Sam and inadvertently said, "Sambo." I am sure it was Gene's way of trying to be friendly, not insulting, and he meant it strictly as an innocent extension of Sam. Sam, normally a calm, pleasant individual, must have been nervous about the game because he exploded. He actually got angry enough to punch Guarilia out if Red and the guys on the team had not cooled it. Sam accepted the explanation that no racial slur had been intended, and it was forgotten. All the racial tensions came from outside sources. Yet I am sure Russell had to wonder about the degree and sincerity of our concern in view of what took place in Lexington. The game was to be in honor of Ramsey and Hagan, who had played as Kentucky teammates in that very fieldhouse. Their children were to be given scholarships in a pregame ceremony. It was to be the first game at the university with integrated seating. Blacks always had been restricted to certain sections, but this time they would be permitted to sit anyplace. In view of what had just happened in Marion, Auerbach reassured Russell, Sam Jones, KC Jones and Sanders that everything was set in Lexington. There would be no racial issues at the hotel. Everyone could eat and sleep as equal American citizens. Russell was informed that everything had been discussed with the hotel people and no one would be embarrassed. Both teams checked in. The St. Louis Hawks also had black players and there was no trouble registering. It was about noon, so I went to my room with the luggage and then headed for the coffee shop. I was eating with a couple of the guys when Sanders and Sam Jones showed up and the waitress refused to let them in. Oh, no. Not again? Yes, again. I was then told by Buddy Leroux, our trainer, that the black players had held a meeting and decided to go home. They weren't going to play. First Marion and now Lexington. Could you blame them? I know how I felt when I saw the look on Sanders' face. He was crushed. Satch was from New York City and never had experienced such treatment there. I never had more compassion for anyone than I had for him at that moment. I respected him with a passion and considered him one of the finest human beings I've ever known. The situation put me and the other players in an awkward position. Auerbach tried to get Russell to consider playing because the game was for Ramsey, his teammate, and the desegregating of seats represented a step forward. "There's noway... you promised us ... " said Russell, "and we're leaving." He was right but now what do the other players do? Red came to the lobby to tell us the black players were going home. He said he had explained to Russell it obviously had been done by a bigoted waitress on her own, since the hotel had cleared everything. Russ took Sam Jones, KC Jones, and Sanders to the airport with him, anyway. "What's going to happen now?" I asked Red. "We're gonna plya the game," he said. "We have a contract to play it." I have to admit that was a helluva spot to be in. Here I was in complete sympathy with Russell and the others. We had played, traveled, and fought together. Should we walk together? Russell never said a word to us. He left us to the dictates of our consciences. We had only six players left because we went to Lexington with only ten men. We talked about it. We considered telling Lexington to screw it. I am sure from the viewpoint of Russel, Sam, KC and Satch that there never should have been a struggle within ourselves. They place no demands on us, but I am sure I was doing the right thing. In my mind, I thought of how Russell might interpret our decision to stay because of his experiences with attitudes and responses. When it was time for his white teammates to stand up, they never were counted until they went to the game and six uniforms were handed out. My answer to that as I look back is that sometimes there are no simple answers. One man's simplistic solution might be another man's complication. There were influences on both sides, and Russell was intelligent or discreet enough not to make it an issue. I prefer to think he knew his teammates were not prejudiced and the Lexington decision simply was a matter of judgement - good, poor, or bad.