Bill Russell Rumors
If you ask any NBA player, executive, or coach about their path to success, on and off the court, you’ll quickly see the same pattern emerge. None of us made it on our own. The truth is, that in all walks of life, mentors transform lives. Whether it’s the middle school math teacher who drove you home from school every day; the uncle who busted your chops when your grades started to slip; the older student who kept you under a watchful eye; or the basketball coach who believed in you – none of us would be where we are today without the support of our mentors.
I am proof. That’s why, 25 years ago, I became a founding board member of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership to build and lead the mentoring movement and since then, MENTOR has helped create and drive support to thousands of programs mentoring millions of kids. It is my proudest accomplishment in life. And that’s why I’m telling my story now, as part of the work MENTOR and the NBA family are doing together in response to President Obama’s call to action around the My Brother’s Keeper initiative. This January, during National Mentoring Month, we are joining forces to tell stories about the power of mentoring and challenging people to pay it forward, to make a difference in someone’s life as someone once did for them.
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.