There are two rather funny stories I would like to share about Bill Russell, the finest defensive player in the NBA. Bill Russell retired from playing basketball after the 1969 season. Although he did coach for awhile in Seattle with the Supersonics and did a turn behind a microphone as a broadcaster, he claims he never played basketball again. Well, almost. He did play one game of one-on-one against his oldest son. The following is his story. “I took my two sons to the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. While there, my oldest son, William Jr., mentioned that he didn’t have much competition when playing basketball,” said Bill. On an empty court in Munich, Germany, here is how the conversation went:
Son, “Do you want to play me one-on-one?’
Russell, “Son, I don’t play basketball anymore.”
Son, “You scared of being embarrassed?”
Son, “Well, I think you’re scared.”
Russell, “Okay, how many baskets?”
“I was leading 19-0 and I said to my son, ‘Now I want you to score twice.’ He looked confused but scored two baskets, and then I went on to win 21-2. My son asked, ‘So, why did you let me score twice?’ Russell responded, ‘There are two reasons: one, so you wouldn’t go away saying that I was so mean that I skunked you, and two, you can now go around bragging that you scored twice on the great Bill Russell.’”
The second story includes Russell’s powerful nemesis, Wilt Chamberlain. Russell won eleven rings in thirteen seasons with the Boston Celtics. The story goes: Chamberlain once asked Bill if he could have one of Bill’s rings, since he only had ten fingers. Bill said “No.” So, Wilt said if he couldn’t get a ring then perhaps he should give Bill a finger. I’ll let you guess which one.