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Old 12-11-2012, 12:48 AM   #31
ThaRegul8r
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

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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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Old 12-11-2012, 12:52 AM   #32
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

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Originally Posted by jlip
I'd have to go back and check my notes and the information from the book. It may take a couple of days for me to find those though. I do remember reading that the creators of basketballreference.com used Oliver's book as the source for much of their advanced stats. I'm familiar with Elgee's work and was amazed as to how similar his conclusions were to Oliver's.

If two people are looking at the same thing, then their conclusions should be similar if it is indeed so.
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:07 AM   #33
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

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Originally Posted by KG215
Where did the Warriors rank the years they had Thurmond? I see they were #2 and #3 in '67 and '68, but what about the other years? I've read about how good he was as a defender. It's interesting to note that the careers of arguably three of the top five defensive anchors of all-time coincided, and their careers also took place in the 60's. You know...when all the centers were 6'5" white guys.

I have through 70' on file, would have to calculate after that

Code:
Year Dfla Place 1963 +2.6 6th 1964 -5.9 2nd <--- Thurmond Joins(Wilt improves) 1965 -1.5 3rd <------------ Wilt leaves midway 1966 -0.6 4th 1967 -3.2 2nd 1968 -2.8 3rd 1969 -2.7 4th 1970 -1.8 2nd
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:21 AM   #34
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

All these high scoring swingmen wouldn't even hit double digits if prime Russell is playing and guarding them today.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:16 AM   #35
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Default Re: Is Bill Russell the best defensive big man of all time, or merely a pioneer?

Russell was THE man who brought dominant shot blocking to basketball, but also the best defensive player in the history of the game by the most reasonable criteria. And that's just looking at the fact that he was the MVP of more championships than any other player, while also being voted league MVP 5 times, and while there were other things that made him great, the biggest part of what made him great was his defense.
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