Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bill Russell (originally posted June 18th, 2009)

This is an older post from one of my other blogs. I am sorting posts from my other blogs, and this little piece about the best basketball player ever should really be here.

Bill Russell is my Hero.

As an adult, making an admission that you admire or respect an individual is all right, to state someone is your hero – well, personally I feel it is a proclamation to be made with some consideration. As I assess the things I admire about this great person, simply put no other words will do.

Bill Russell has won 11 National Basketball Association (NBA) titles during his career as player in the 1950’s and 60’s with the Boston Celtics and as a coach in1970’s. He was not a player who poured on points, but as you can see from the picture above he was extremely adept at stopping other players doing just that. Players who played with and against Bill Russell speak of his tenacity and uncanny ability to anticipate where the ball was going to be. Being in the right time place to send the ball back where it came from. His record as a player has recently earned Russell the honour of the NBA finals ‘Most Valuable Player’ Award being renamed after him.

Basketball as with any sport played at it’s highest level, is about winning. It is absolutely evident that Bill Russell is an embodiment of the victoriousness. But it is not the reason he is my hero.

Bill Russel as a player and a person is uncompromising. To understand this I will paraphrase a story about Bill Russell. In the early 50’s in his sophomore college year, Russell was a leader and prime candidate in many statistical categories by an obvious margin. That year he was passed over for the most valuable player award. A white player, secondary every sense, won the award. In his senior year, Bill Russell accepted that same award, before literally throwing it away. He did this because it meant nothing to him after what had occurred in his second last year of college.

I watched a documentary where his Celtics team mates retold how Bill Russell destroyed NBA teams in southern states, with his shot blocking, court speed and anticipation. He played the game ethically, but his dominance on those occasions most effectively stated his disdain for the segregation and racism that thrived in the south at that time.

Most of all, Bill Russell put himself on the line. Being an active civil rights advocate during his time as a professional ball player was a risk to himself personally. Civil rights contemporaries and leaders like Mohamed Ali, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X paid in varying degrees for their beliefs. Russell had his life and that of his family threatened frequently, his house vandalised numerous times as well as an undertow of public disdain by those disagreed with what Bill Russell rightfully campaigned for.
I believe that in sport and life there is a word always associated with true virtuosity. Intangibility. Bill Russell was not just a superior player and athlete; he played and still lives today with an indomitable spirit. He put his heart into what he wanted to achieved and as well putting himself on the line for his own beliefs.  He defied and defended in the ways that matter most. 

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