NBA legend Bill Russell took a knee while wearing Presidential Medal of Freedom in support of NFL anthem protestors

Bill Russell has joined the growing group of prominent names who have weighed in on the recent wave of national anthem protests in the NFL.

On Tuesday, the NBA legend tweeted a photo of himself wearing his Presidential Medal of Freedom and resting on one knee. It was a striking symbol of solidarity with the NFL protestors, who have weathered multiple criticisms from President Donald Trump.

While Russell's account has yet to be verified, Bleacher Report's Howard Beck reported that the NBA has confirmed the photo came from the longtime Boston Celtic. Take a look:

It appears that Russell created the Twitter account specifically to post the photo. The above message was his first tweet, and the only other posts on his timeline are assurances that the account is real and this graphic from "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee," which attacks the idea of "acceptable protest."

Russell's decision to wear his Medal of Freedom, awarded to him by Barack Obama in 2011, was significant. The medal is the highest civilian award in the US and was given to Russell in recognition of his "helping change the culture of a sport and the course of our nation."

26 PHOTOS
Bill Russell's incredible career
See Gallery
Bill Russell's incredible career
BOSTON - DECEMBER 26: Boston Celtics player Bill Russell and coach Red Auerbach during a game against the Philadelphia Warriors at Boston Garden on Dec. 26, 1956. (Photo by Jack O'Connell/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - 1959: Bill Russell #6 of the Boston Celtics shoots the ball against Wilt Chamberlain #13 of the Philadelphia Warriors during a game circa 1959 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1959 NBAE (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)
Boston Celtics' player Bill Russell hooks a shot during the NBA championship's final game in 1960 against the Saint Louis Hawks.
NEW YORK, NY - CIRCA 1960's: Bill Russell #6 of the Boston Celtics guarding Art Heyman #4 of the New York Knicks during a mid circa 1960's NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. Russell played for the Celtics from 1956-69. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
JULY 13: Bill Russell speaks at a press conference at the NAACP, July 13, 1964. (Photo by Joseph Runci/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - 1967: Bill Russell #6 of the Boston Celtics shoots a hook shot against the New York Knicks in 1967 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1967 NBAE (Photo by Ken Regan/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON - 1967: Bill Russell #6 of the Boston Celtics sits on the bench during a game played in 1967 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1967 NBAE (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON - 1968: Bill Russell #6 of the Boston Celtics poses for a portrait in 1968 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1968 NBAE (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) CELTICS-KNICKS-NBA PLAYOFFS...Knicks' Dave Bradley finds himself surrounded by Celtics players during 2nd quarter action of the 6th game of the Eastern NBA Playoff series here, 4/18. Celtics players are (L-R) Bill Russell, Larry Siegfried and John Havlicek.
Bill Russell - Athlete of the Decade . (Photo by Sporting News Archive/Sporting News via Getty Images)
BOSTON - 1974: NBA Legend Bill Russell watches a Boston Celtics game played in 1974 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1974 NBAE (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)
MA - FEBRUARY 10: Former Boston Celtics coaches Red Auerbach and Bill Russell sit together on Feb. 10, 1970. (Photo by Frank O'Brien/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - 1985: Bill Russell and Rick Barry are seen announcing a game circa 1985 at the Boston Garden in Boston Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1985 NBAE (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON- 1996: Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics poses for a photo with eleven of his Championship rings in 1996 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1996 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
WALTHAM, MA - OCTOBER 10: Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce, left, and Celtics legend Bill Russell are pictured during practice in Waltham, MA on Oct. 10, 2000. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
MEMPHIS, TN - JANUARY 19: Bill Russell speaks during the Pioneers of the NBA Symposium entitled 'They Cleared the Lane' at the National Civil Rights Museum on January 19, 2003 in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo By Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO - JUNE 12: NBA Legend Bill Russell smiles during an NBA Legends Roundtable discussion on NBA TV prior to Game Two of the 2005 NBA Finals between the Detroit Pistons and the San Antonio Spurs June 12, 2005 at the Valencia Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2005 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
SECAUCUS, NJ - MAY 30: NBA Legend Bill Russell (L) speaks with Gail Goodrich May 30, 2006 on the set of NBA Insiders in Secaucus, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2006 NBAE (Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND - JUNE 2: (L) NBA Legend Bill Russell presents the Cleveland Cavaliers with Eastern Conference Championship trophy following Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2007 NBA Playoffs on June 2, 2007 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2007 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI - JANUARY 18: Former NBA great Bill Russell joins the Miami Heat broadcast January 18, 2008 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2008 NBAE (Photo by Victor Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON - MARCH 5: Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics laughs with Bill Russell after the game against the Detroit Pistons on March 5, 2008 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2008 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHOENIX - FEBRUARY 14: NBA Legend Bill Russell speaks to the media after it was announced that the NBA Finals MVP trophy will be named after him prior to All-Star Saturday Night as part of 2009 NBA All-Star Weekend at US Airways Center on February 14, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Ray Amati/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers speaks with Bill Russell after being named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SPRINGFIELD, MA - SEPTEMBER 9: NBA Legends Bill Russell and Julius Erving talk during the 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony on September 9, 2016 at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 26: (L-R) NBA legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Alonzo Mourning, David Robinson, NBA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Bill Russell, Shaquille O'Neal, and Dikembe Mutombo pose backstage during the 2017 NBA Awards Live on TNT on June 26, 2017 in New York, New York. 27111_002 (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for TNT)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Trump hasn't pulled any punches on the NFL protests, encouraging owners to fire the protestors and continuing with an onslaught of tweets over the weekend. By posing with the Medal of Freedom, Russell seems to be making a statement on how the White House has changed its values since last Election Day.

Russell, 83, developed a reputation for being outspoken on social issues over the course of a long and decorated NBA career. The Louisiana native won a staggering 11 consecutive championships in the 1950s and '60s and became the first black head coach of a major US professional sport in 1966.

But his time with the Celtics wasn't all fun and games. In his 1979 memoir "Second Wind," Russell wrote about his experience playing in Boston during the Civil Rights era.

"Boston itself was a flea market of racism," Russell wrote, according to The Boston Globe's Adrian Walker. "It had all varieties, old and new, and in their most virulent form. The city had corrupt, city hall-crony racists, brick-throwing, send-'em-back-to-Africa racists, and in the university areas phony radical-chic racists. … Other than that, I liked the city."

Russell was again recognized for his outspokenness just last fall, when he was given Sports Illustrated's Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.

40 PHOTOS
NFL players, owners protest after Trump's harsh criticism
See Gallery
NFL players, owners protest after Trump's harsh criticism
Sep 24, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts players kneel during the playing of the National Anthem before the game against the Cleveland Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Baltimore Ravens players kneel for the American National anthem during the NFL International Series match between Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium on September 24, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25: Members of the Dallas Cowboys link arms and kneel during the National Anthem before the start of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 25, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
NFL Football - Jacksonville Jaguars vs Baltimore Ravens - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - September 24, 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan links arms with players during the national anthems before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: (L-R) Wide recceivers Chris Moore and Breshad Perriman of the Baltimore Ravens pray prior to kickoff during the NFL match between The Jacksonville Jaguars and The Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium on September 24, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mitchell Gunn/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Jacksonville Jaguar players show their protest during the National Anthem during the NFL International Series match between Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium on September 24, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
NFL Football - Jacksonville Jaguars vs Baltimore Ravens - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - September 24, 2017 Patrick Omameh of the Jacksonville Jaguars kneels during the U.S. national anthem before the match Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
NFL Football - Jacksonville Jaguars vs Baltimore Ravens - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - September 24, 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars players kneel during the U.S. national anthem before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
NFL Football - Jacksonville Jaguars vs Baltimore Ravens - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - September 24, 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars players kneel during the U.S. national anthem before the match Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Jacksonville Jaguar players show their protest during the National Anthem during the NFL International Series match between Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium on September 24, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: (Editors Note: This image has been turned black and white) Jacksonville Jaguars enter te stadium during the NFL International Series match between Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium on September 24, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Sep 24, 2017; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills players kneel in protest during the National Anthem before a game against the Denver Broncos at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Denver Bronco players kneel in protest during the National Anthem before a game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) and teammates stand next to service members holding a giant US flag during the national anthem prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; The Cleveland Browns team stand and kneel during the National Anthem before the start of their game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers link arms during the national anthem prior to the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (44) middle linebacker Tahir Whitehead (59) running back Ameer Abdullah (21) outside linebacker Steve Longa (54) defensive end Jeremiah Ledbetter (98) defensive end Armonty Bryant (97) defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson (91) and defensive end Cornelius Washington (90) kneel during the national anthem before the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
September 24, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets players lock arms during the national anthem before the game against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Members of the Denver Broncos kneel during the playing of the national anthem prior to a game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; The Dallas Cowboys players, coaches and staff take a knee prior to the National Anthem before the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars players kneel during the playing of the United Sates national anthem before a NFL International Series game against the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; Members of the New England Patriots take a knee during the national anthem before a game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Some of the Miami Dolphins take a knee during the anthem prior to the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; Members of the New England Patriots kneel for the national anthem before the start of the game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
NFL Football - Jacksonville Jaguars vs Baltimore Ravens - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - September 24, 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars players kneel during the U.S. national anthem before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
NFL Football - Jacksonville Jaguars vs Baltimore Ravens - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - September 24, 2017 Patrick Omameh of the Jacksonville Jaguars kneels during the U.S. national anthem before the match Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Sep 24, 2017; Landover, MD, USA; Oakland Raiders players sit on the bench during the national anthem prior to their game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder stands with cornerback Josh Norman (24) and cornerback Bashaud Breeland (26) and safety D.J. Swearinger (36) during the playing of the national anthem before the game between the Washington Redskins and the Oakland Raiders at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Landover, MD, USA; Oakland Raiders players sit on the bench during the national anthem prior to their game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Carson, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Marcus Peters (22) protests next to running back Charcandrick West (35) and defensive tackle Roy Miller (98) during the National Anthem prior to the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers tight end Lance Kendricks (84) and tight end Martellus Bennett (80) sit on the bench during the national anthem prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Recording artist Meghan Linsey kneels after singing the national anthem before the game between the Tennessee Titans and the Seattle Seahawks at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
September 24, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets players lock arms during the national anthem before the game against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
NFL Football - Jacksonville Jaguars vs Baltimore Ravens - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - September 24, 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan links arms with players during the national anthems before the match Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 24: Members of the Chicago Bears stand arm-in-arm during the National Anthem before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Soldier Field on September 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: Justin Houston #50 of the Kansas City Chiefs is seen taking a knee during the National Anthem before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at the StubHub Center on September 24, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
NFL Football - Jacksonville Jaguars vs Baltimore Ravens - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - September 24, 2017 General view during the national anthems before the match Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
At the start of the game protestors take a knee in support of the movement started by NFL player Colin Kaepernick, outside Lincoln Financial Field, in South Philadelphia, PA, on September 24, 2017. Similar protest are staged around the nation after US President Donald Trump named Kaepernick a Son of A Bitch at a recent rally. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25: Strong safety Tyvon Branch #27 of the Arizona Cardinals links arms with staff and players during the National Anthem before the start of the NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 25, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

NOW WATCH: How 46-year-old WWE superstar Chris Jericho stays in amazing shape

See Also:

SEE ALSO: NBA POWER RANKINGS: Where each team stands going into training camp

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.