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Old 12-11-2012, 01:48 AM   #31
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

Originally Posted by jlip
NEW YORK (AP)—The vanishing athlete—the defensive basketball player—has returned in the person of big Bill Russell.

Although he has yet to play a full season in professional ranks, his coach, the Boston Celtics’ Red Auerbach, already hails him as the greatest defensive basketball player who ever lived.

Several rival NBA coaches are ready to agree with him, too.
After Boston had ruined Detroit’s home opener with a victory last week, Piston coach Charley Eckman said: “Russell beat us all by himself—with his brilliant defensive play.”

Last Saturday night, after the Celtics had overcome a 14-point deficit to defeat the Knickerbockers 131-121 and spoil their home debut before some 13,000. New York coach Vince Boryla groaned: “Sure they had to score a zillion points to win, but it was Russell who beat us, nobody else. If he hadn’t batted down all those shots in the first half, we’d have taken such a commanding lead, they’d have given up.”

Actually, the former Olympic and University of San Francisco All-American, who carries 230 pounds on his spidery 6-10 frame, grabbed 23 rebounds, made three interceptions and nine spectacular blocks of seemingly certain goals which would have added 18 points to the losers’ total. He also added 25 points of his own.

(Joe Reichler. “Russell Top Defense Man.” Ludington Daily News. Oct 30, 1957.)

Source- At the time the above was written Wilt was still a freshmen in college.

“That’s quite a twist, isn’t it, having a defensive player mean the difference?” said Kundla. “We don’t fear the Celtics without Bill Russell. Take him out and we can beat them … He’s the guy who whipped us psychologically. Russell has our club worrying every second. Every one of the five men is thinking Russell is covering him on every play. He blocks a shot, and before you know it, Boston is getting a basket, and a play by Russell has done it.”

--Lakers coach, John Kundla after the 1959 Finals before Wilt played one NBA game

I wouldn't bold Auerbach's quote as he was Russell's own coach (just as I wouldn't ever cite Philadelphia guys in support of Wilt, as what else are they going to say?), but the testimony of contemporaries outside of Boston is relevant evidence.
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