Bill Russell – legend, icon and one of the greatest winners in the history of sports – sat down with Michael D. McClellan, Editor-in-Chief of Celtic Nation, granting an exclusive interview. Russell’s achievements are unparalleled in the basketball universe; two NCAA basketball championships, Olympic gold, 11 titles in 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics, including eight in a row and two of the last three as player/coach. The 5-time NBA MVP spoke candidly on a range of topics during the two-hour interview, with an excerpt appearing below. Watch for the entire interview, coming soon, to Celtic-Nation.
Russell on Lakers rival Jerry West
I played against Jerry five times in the championship series, and he was one of the most complete competitors that I’ve ever played against. You think about the fact that they made it to the Finals five times, and then also won it a couple of times, so he got the Finals seven times. That, to me, is a remarkable achievement. I always kid Jerry, because Jerry won’t even wear green socks [laughs], because he say’s he’s haunted by the color green…[laughs]…
Russell on his impact on the college game, and the rule changes that were instituted because of how he played the post position
The lane was actually shaped like a keyhole, and it was six feet across. They changed it to ten feet across. I looked at that and I thought about it and I said, “Thank you!” Because I looked at my physical capabilities, as well as the capabilities of the guys I was playing against, and that was a huge advantage on my part. Huge. I couldn’t have asked them to do anything to help me any more than that. Of course they didn’t realize it at the time…[laughs]…
Russell on his rivalry with Wilt Chamberlain
I actually had to change the way I played against Wilt. By that, I mean I couldn’t play him the same way twice. He was too big, too talented, too smart. So I had to go into each contest and make adjustments to make sure that I had the advantage. It was the biggest rivalry in the game at the time, and even after all these years, it’s still the biggest rivalry the game has ever produced.