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Thoughts Regarding The Unique, Complex And So Great, Bill Russell

August 2, 2022

There is so much that is uncertain about the unique, complex and truly great Bill Russell, who died 2 days back (City on a Hill, which once titled an episode Bill Russell’s Bedsheets had its third season premiere that day, provoking thought) save the fact he was the greatest “winner” in major North American team sports, playing on 11 NBA title teams (only Henri Richard has as many at the professional level) and 2 NCAA title teams with the Boston Celtics and University of San Francisco Dons respectively.

Bill Russell was so gifted, beyond intelligent and most of all perceptive. Yet what really were the consequences and thoughts of Bill regarding the Monroe, Louisiana to Boston racism (non freedom) ride he endured?

Again so complex and who knows what made Bill such a competitor and ultimate winner?

My head spins with thoughts remembering him and he has been cited so often in these posts, far too often, especially of late when such great Boston Celtics’ players and coaches as K.C. Jones, Tom Heinsohn, Sam Jones, and John Havlicek predeceased the one and only “Russ,” whose rebounds and outlet passes fused a thing of beauty and great, unmatched within a period success that was the Celtics “fast break” and title run.

Bill’s incredible defensive acumen, best exemplified by his shot blocking and control of said blocked shot fused great ability, including geniusand perception. (He knew angles and often where the ball would go!)

Look if you can find (why so little of any real games, not the often disjointed highlights) as Mr. Russell grabbed the rebound when Frank “Pops” Selvy missed a shot that if made, would have given L.A. the ’62 and first L.A. crown–instead “Russ” and the great Sam Jones led in the overtimes and that first L.A. Lakers’ crown was 10 years down the road.

You know in citing Bill Russell, one must talk about the key member of that ’72 title team, 3 years after Bill retired, (Bill was doing playoffs “analysis” and long distance–“can’t miss with long distance” ads), namely Wilton Norman Chamberlain.

My dad Norman rooted for “Russ” and the Celtics, I was for a number of Wilt led teams. Russell and the Celtics prevailed in all but one playoffs clash vs Wilt’s teams. Bill and the Celts won 11 titles in 13 seasons, Wilt’s teams won 2 in his 14 seasons, albeit with at the time, the two greatest NBA records.

They were good friends, sharing that “Thursday holiday in November” dinners and playing with Bill’s electric trains.

As written here before, and I will post it below, they did not talk for a long time, a lesson for all, before resuming such, however at that juncture, it was not all that long after that Wilt died alone nearly 23 years before Bill, who was happily married.

I can go on and hopefully will in future posts. It (Russell/Chamberlain) is an endless, complex, no real answer, greatest of sports debates– replete with real life and lessons thereof.

Bill stood vs racism and for justice, notably doing so, among many other times, along with greats Jim Brown and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, (then Lew Alcindor) (others) in defense of Muhammad Ali when Ali was denied his rights, when he refused induction into the U.S. military in 1967. (life went on, ESPN was formed giving us 1963 as the erroneous year in question and totally disrespecting the great Bob Pettit and the St. Louis Hawks, saying the Celts “waltzed” through the ’57 playoffs, when in fact, the Hawks took them to a 7th game that went into overtime. All that in’s Bill Russell’s news of death).

Lighter: (I swear no pun, but this person devoid of seeing or caring what one’s skin color is, believes we have to “Sheryl Crow it,” (“lighten up” a bit anyway, regarding so called political correctness and apply logic.) Bill called my late friend Beano Cook, “Bongo” and Beano praised in a gentlemanly, classy way-Bill’s girlfriend of those ABC “on air at 2, so often Wilt and Bill teams clashing, with the actual start at 1:55” Sunday telecasts. (They were on ABC and Beano worked regarding those telecasts).

Go ahead Bill, secure in your victories, your stances, your success at finding love and helping others. Have fun up there, however, I hope this time, Wilt gets “better angels” on his team.

Alas, Bill you inspire me and others to seek the veritable “better angels” in this life. Having done that alone, never mind all else, thank you, Bill Russell.


BillRussellCeltics1 (cropped).jpg

Bill Russell, born the same date as another true great,  who stood vs injustice, Abraham Lincoln, is pictured above.

Click below to view one of my many past posts that cited Bill Russell. 


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