Throughout its run, Miami Vice has had quite a few well-known guest stars. In fact, there’s probably more to Miami Vice than a few famous actors you forgot. Bill Russell was just one of many talented people to appear on the show.
In season 2, episode 18 (“Correction”) on the NBC series, Russell played Judge Roger Ferguson, a character from a poor neighborhood who received a basketball scholarship and eventually moved on to All-Pro before taking on the gavel and gown to serve justice. Unfortunately, the Judge has a bad reputation among the cops due to his tendency to pass lenient sentences on violent criminals.
In fact, the judge finds himself at odds with James “Sonny” Crockett (Don Johnson) and Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas) when he sets outrageously low bail for the recently arrested cult duo. Unsurprisingly, Sonny and Rico quickly realize that something is wrong. As they investigate the matter, they discover that the referee has a severe gambling problem that escalates to the point where he is forced to ask his son, a rising basketball star, to quit so he can pay off his debts.
While Russell is likely to be remembered for his work outside of Hollywood, the memory of this short role is only part of the honor of the late basketball star’s long life.