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Old 03-04-2009, 10:11 AM   #1
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Default Insight into Bill Russell

i just finished russell's 1979 book "second wind" and here are a few interesting points from his reflections:
  • his grandfather from louisiana went to one game of russ'. it was in the boston garden during the year that russ was player coach. he was amazed that the white players had to actually do what russ told them to do (as coach). after the game, in the locker room, he saw his grandfather crying and was worried about him. when russ asked him why he was crying, he motioned over to the showers where the players were and said, "i never thought i would see the day when whites and blacks would be like that (using the same shower together)" (parphrase)
  • at university of san francisco, he tested how high he could jump (from a running start) by putting chalk on his fingers. the result: 14 ft
  • (by 1979), bob pettit and elgin baylor were "the best forwards i've ever seen"
  • in his second year 1958 he was chosen the most valuable player yet when the sportswriters voted, he didnt even make the first all nba team-- they put three white forwards with no center (dolph schayes, george yardley and bob pettit). russell wrote, "what ingenuity, and what a trivial place for prejudice."
  • regarding signing autographs, russ saw the "the whole exchange as phony". and sometimes he would respond to those who called him "uppity" (for not signing) by saying,
  • "I dont think it matters to you who I think I am. But eveidently it does matter who you think i am, and if I deviate from what you think I should be, you get pissed"
  • russ saw himself first as man who played basketball and he "tried not to pay attention to the labels of occupation, status, or class"
overall, russell played the game because he loved the game and had little place for anything that didnt respect the "purity" of that intention. he was anti-establishment as the basis for his fight against racism. but the personal experiences of bigotry indeed shaped his viewpoints also

Last edited by RainierBeachPoet : 03-04-2009 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 03-04-2009, 11:02 AM   #2
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Default Re: Insight into Bill Russell

damn 14 feet? Isnt that like the top of the backboard?
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Old 03-04-2009, 11:46 AM   #3
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Default Re: Insight into Bill Russell

Quote:
Originally Posted by RainierBeachPoet
his grandfather from louisiana went to one game of russ'. it was in the boston garden during the year that russ was player coach. he was amazed that the white players had to actually do what russ told them to do (as coach). after the game, in the locker room, he saw his grandfather crying and was worried about him. when russ asked him why he was crying, he motioned over to the showers where the players were and said, "i never thought i would see the day when whites and blacks would be like that (using the same shower together)" (parphrase)



That was only 40 years ago, it kinda puts things into perspective ...
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Old 03-04-2009, 12:32 PM   #4
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Default Re: Insight into Bill Russell

more please
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Old 03-04-2009, 12:50 PM   #5
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Default Re: Insight into Bill Russell

Quote:
Originally Posted by RainierBeachPoet
i just finished russell's 1979 book "second wind" and here are a few interesting points from his reflections:
  • his grandfather from louisiana went to one game of russ'. it was in the boston garden during the year that russ was player coach. he was amazed that the white players had to actually do what russ told them to do (as coach). after the game, in the locker room, he saw his grandfather crying and was worried about him. when russ asked him why he was crying, he motioned over to the showers where the players were and said, "i never thought i would see the day when whites and blacks would be like that (using the same shower together)" (parphrase)
  • at university of san francisco, he tested how high he could jump (from a running start) by putting chalk on his fingers. the result: 14 ft
  • (by 1979), bob pettit and elgin baylor were "the best forwards i've ever seen"
  • in his second year 1958 he was chosen the most valuable player yet when the sportswriters voted, he didnt even make the first all nba team-- they put three white forwards with no center (dolph schayes, george yardley and bob pettit). russell wrote, "what ingenuity, and what a trivial place for prejudice."
  • regarding signing autographs, russ saw the "the whole exchange as phony". and sometimes he would respond to those who called him "uppity" (for not signing) by saying,
  • "I dont think it matters to you who I think I am. But eveidently it does matter who you think i am, and if I deviate from what you think I should be, you get pissed"
  • russ saw himself first as man who played basketball and he "tried not to pay attention to the labels of occupation, status, or class"
overall, russell played the game because he loved the game and had little place for anything that didnt respect the "purity" of that intention. he was anti-establishment as the basis for his fight against racism. but the personal experiences of bigotry indeed shaped his viewpoints also

I knew about the first little bit of trivia, but had no idea about the others. Man, he can jump 14 feet? That's incredible.
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Old 03-04-2009, 01:53 PM   #6
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Default Re: Insight into Bill Russell

14 feet would mean he has about 50 inch vert. I call bs.
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Old 03-04-2009, 02:55 PM   #7
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Default Re: Insight into Bill Russell

There was a story about his by David Halberstam on Real Sports on HBO four or so year ago. After the piece ran, the reporter always does this interview with Bryant Gumble about it, while Gumble for whatever reason pretends to be taking notes in a tiny notebook (that always bothered the hell out of me).

Anyway, Halberstam is telling a story about being at a school in upper Mass where Russ was scheduled to speak, but Russ was playing the Knicks the next night, and was already in NY. Russ showed up, gave his talk, and they were both going to leave. Halberstam was taking the train back to NY, but Russ knowing him as a writer, offered to drive him. They apparently got along great, Halberstam wrote about Russ many times, even in his series on the 60s, unsports related. About halfway through the trip, in Connecticut, Halberstam asks if Russ considered him a friend. Russ said he had to think about it. He never answered him on the drive, but called him a few days later to say that he didn't think they could ever be friends. Then went on a long explanation about the racial dynamic, the writer/athlete dynamic, a bunch of other stuff. Halberstam can barely remember the whole explanation, because he said that while he somewhat bothered by the fact that Russ didn't think they could ever be friends, he was floored by the fact that the guy thought it over for four days.
That he says is the most poignant thing about him, he thought, and thought critically, about everything. Nothing was a quick decision. And while he was often seen as hardheaded, it's just that he put so much effort into making up his mind, that he was unlikely to change it just because it bothered someone. It's striking now during an era where guys seem to think about nothing.
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Old 03-04-2009, 03:05 PM   #8
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Default Re: Insight into Bill Russell

more stories plz
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Old 03-04-2009, 03:11 PM   #9
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Default Re: Insight into Bill Russell

Nice posts from RBP and Thorpe. Good info. Thanks very much.
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Old 03-04-2009, 04:20 PM   #10
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Default Re: Insight into Bill Russell

Quote:
Originally Posted by iamgine
14 feet would mean he has about 50 inch vert. I call bs.

he has a freakish wingspan: i have read between 7'-7'4"

it is one major factor that made him able to hold his own against wilt and other taller centers.

it is the main reason auerbach always considered one's wingspan more important than his height
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Old 03-04-2009, 04:25 PM   #11
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Default Re: Insight into Bill Russell

Nice post RBP. I never knew those things.
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Old 03-04-2009, 04:37 PM   #12
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Default Re: Insight into Bill Russell

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thorpesaurous
There was a story about his by David Halberstam on Real Sports on HBO four or so year ago. After the piece ran, the reporter always does this interview with Bryant Gumble about it, while Gumble for whatever reason pretends to be taking notes in a tiny notebook (that always bothered the hell out of me).

Anyway, Halberstam is telling a story about being at a school in upper Mass where Russ was scheduled to speak, but Russ was playing the Knicks the next night, and was already in NY. Russ showed up, gave his talk, and they were both going to leave. Halberstam was taking the train back to NY, but Russ knowing him as a writer, offered to drive him. They apparently got along great, Halberstam wrote about Russ many times, even in his series on the 60s, unsports related. About halfway through the trip, in Connecticut, Halberstam asks if Russ considered him a friend. Russ said he had to think about it. He never answered him on the drive, but called him a few days later to say that he didn't think they could ever be friends. Then went on a long explanation about the racial dynamic, the writer/athlete dynamic, a bunch of other stuff. Halberstam can barely remember the whole explanation, because he said that while he somewhat bothered by the fact that Russ didn't think they could ever be friends, he was floored by the fact that the guy thought it over for four days.
That he says is the most poignant thing about him, he thought, and thought critically, about everything. Nothing was a quick decision. And while he was often seen as hardheaded, it's just that he put so much effort into making up his mind, that he was unlikely to change it just because it bothered someone. It's striking now during an era where guys seem to think about nothing.

it came across in many different ways that russ is a very introspective man who acts out of principle; this is totally consistent with the way he described other experiences in life

he was also a very headstrong person. couple that with his principles and you have a potent mix
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