Bill Russell Rumors
There were years when Russell wasn’t such an important part of league celebrations. But a few conversations with David Stern enticed Russell back, perhaps one of the most overlooked moves of the former commissioner. And Russell is indeed giving back. He loves to talk, offer his knowledge, and spend time with current players. Quietly, it also seems that Russell enjoys being lauded late in his life. Whatever issues he had with the NBA have dissipated, and the league has given him the proper appreciation for what he has accomplished. So, while it was an unusual to see Russell waiting for James well after midnight, it was heartwarming to watch those who paused to marvel at Russell. He definitely noticed.
James iced his aching joints one last time after the game, a towel draped over his head and a small battalion of Cavaliers’ PR, security, and James’ close friends forming a wall around him. Bill Russell, the legendary, 11-time NBA champion, waited to speak with James in the hallway outside the Cavs’ locker room. It wasn’t immediately clear if the meeting ever happened. Dan Gilbert, the Cavs’ majority owner, and minority owner Nate Forbes, made their way to James’ locker for a few words, but they were brief.
To congratulate Stephen Curry for winning the MVP award, Under Armour recruited NBA legend Bill Russell to lend a hand. More specifically, his voice. In Under Armour’s MVP commercial for Curry, Russell reads the famous Jacob Riis quote about a stonecutter pounding away at a rock. Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before. This quote is popular in NBA circles thanks to Gregg Popovich, who has used the quote almost like a mantra to motivate the Spurs. With all of the hardwork Curry has done to get to this point, the quote aptly fits him as well.
If only because it reminded Davis of where he wants to go. “When you mention basketball or NBA and you talk about greatest players, I definitely want to be in that conversation,” Davis continued. “You mention Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, all those guys. I want to be in that conversation.”
Even amidst this first-round challenge against the Golden State Warriors that even Russell’s Boston Celtics would have found daunting, Davis found himself picturing the possibilities when he stumbled upon a black-and-white image of one of the game’s greats. “I’m more focused on Golden State, what they’re trying to do to stop us and what we’re trying to do to stop them,” Davis told USA TODAY Sports. “But you do think about Bill Russell and what he did here, what he did for the league. He led the way for guys like us today. “I went in the Bill Russell Room, and me and (a Pelicans media relations official) were saying (as they looked at the picture) that he looks so much younger. He and I were in the same predicament. It’s just cool when you see something like that.”
Now that he’s in charge of the Cavaliers’ latest attempt at a ring, coach David Blatt is trying harder than usual to distance himself from his Celtics-flavored childhood in Framingham. “I’m not a Celtics fan anymore, I can guarantee it,” he said. “Haven’t been one for a while. My Celtics fan days were the days of Bill Russell and the crew. That’s long, long since passed. I’m in a different place now, but I certainly do appreciate the rich history and the great things that franchise did for the NBA and this game.”
Cousy lives in Worcester during the summer, but he winters in Florida so he watches his share of Heat games on television and he was impressed when Whiteside came off the bench to record a triple-double on Jan. 25 against the Bulls with 14 points, 13 rebounds and a franchise-record 12 blocks. “I have never said this in the 40 years since I retired,” Cousy said in a recent telephone interview, “but he is the first big guy, not (Patrick) Ewing, (Hakeem) Olajuwon, Shaq (O’Neal), who reminds me defensively and on the boards of Russell. He runs the floor well, he has excellent timing, he blocks shots and keeps them in play the way Russell did.”
“That’s a great honor,” Whiteside said before the Celtics hosted Miami Wednesday. “Everybody knows that Bill Russell is probably one of the best shot blockers that ever lived. That’s really a big honor that he thinks of me that way.”
“He was everything to us,” said Jim Tucker, 82, who was in attendance last year when a statue of Lloyd was unveiled at West Virginia State, Lloyd’s alma mater, in the presence of such immortals as Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson.