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Five NBA Players, Denied Meal Service at Kentucky Hotel, Sit Out Exhibition Game

Oct. 17, 1961 - Bill Russell (right) and four other Negro players on the Boston Celtics and two on the St. Louis Hawks left Lexington, Ky., tonight after they were refused meal service at the hotel where they were staying. The players left an hour before they were to play an exhibition game at the University of Kentucky. The Hawks won the game, 128-103, both teams using their white players. Coach Red Auerbach (left) of the Celtics said he took his five players to the airport and sent them home. Said Auerbach: “I couldn’t possibly order them to play. They stayed at the hotel and yet were refused service in the hotel’s coffee shop.” The manager of the Phoenix Hotel said the entire incident was a misunderstanding.


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