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Bill Russell Thought St. Louis Was Racist?

In yesterday's B.S. Report from Bill Simmons of Grantland and ESPN, Simmons told his guests Malcolm Gladwell and Nate Silver a Bill Russell antidote from a day he spent with the Boston Celtic hall of famer.

The full audio is below, but Simmons claimed that if Bill Russell was drafted by the St. Louis Hawks, he wouldn't have played for the team because of racism in the city.

Some light research reveals that Russell was actually drafted by the STL Hawks in the 1956 NBA draft, but traded to Boston for Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan almost immediately after being drafted, so this holdout never occurred. 

Simmons does state at the end of the clip that he thinks St. Louis is a much better place, now.

So, I guess the question is… just how racist was St. Louis in the mid 50's? Bad enough that Russell would have boycotted the city? 

If you know more about any of this, feel free to post in the comment section below.