Since I was 14, Bill Russell showed me how to be a better player--and a better man.
Kareem, I was at UCLA the same time you were dominating the college game. And I was at a lot of Lakers games when you were leading that team. But writing like this piece about Bill Russell gives me the same feeling of watching a master at work. Keep on keeping on.
Such beautiful writing. Mr. Russell passed the torch as well as the basketball.
After seeing the sad news of Bill Russell’s passing, I was looking forward to reading your memories of him. As usual, you did not disappoint. Thank you.
My condolences on the loss of your friend and mentor.
I never met Mr. Russell, but I did make him laugh once. He had come to a game in Pauley. It was half-time. He was standing near the concession stands. Someone said "Is that REALLY Bill Russell?" I said "No, it's Willie Shoemaker in disguise!" That's when I heard that cackle.
Thank you for sharing this ❤️
What an inspiration to all. May he Rest In Peace.
I have always been a fan of your as a player. But as I read more of your books and articles and insights I became a bigger fan of you as a man. Your always my goat when that subject comes up and when no one mentions that if you came out of high school no one would touch your scoring record. Thanks for helping a lifetime laker fan learn about Bill Russell the man.
The world is a better place because of Bill Russell and you. Keep it up Kareem!
And thank you for the wonderful photos. The one shoe high jump.
The white crowd, one small black kid. So long ago. Just amazing.
You didn't remember me at a Hall of Fame enshrinement when a friend of mine was going in, but I tutored you at UCLA. I also met the wonderful Bill Russell for a festival for the final event at the Boston Garden. We were actually shooting baskets. He was so gracious and asked me if I was spoken for. A little bit embarrassing as my gentleman caller was nearby.
Two MOMENTOUS events with giants of mankind in my Forrest Gump life
Beautiful! I hope you don't mind, but I stole the photo of you with Bill Russell and Jackie Robinson. For a 5'0, white, old lady, that photo means more to me than you will ever know. Two Bruins and Bill Russell. Wow.
Great insight. I was fortunate to see Bill Russell play several times at the LA Sports Arena. His greatness on the court was exceeded by his greatness in life. He changed the game with his defensive brilliance as you changed the game with your offensive brilliance and your greatness in life, as well.
It's a real privilege to have you share pieces of your extraordinary life with your readers in such an authentic way.
It’s especially fortunate to be able to get a first-hand account of your personal relationships with people like Bill Russell, who so few people have ever gotten a chance to know well.
Both he and you have understood basketball and America in ways that very few others ever have. And despite the changes in basketball brought about by the three-point shot, I have no doubt that the two of you (and Wilt Chamberlain) would still be dominant players in today's game.
Before the Bucks (and then you), I and most people I knew were Celtics fans. Bill Russell was the epitome of “team” play and class. Although he was surrounded by some of the greatest players of his era, it unquestionably was his dominance that coalesced those Celtics into the greatest sports dynasty ever. I never stopped respecting and rooting for him through his playing, coaching and broadcasting days. Sad he’s gone, but at least we still have you, his greatest pupil.
Thank you for sharing this deeply personal insight on a wonderful man and champion.
I don't know if you ever read Charles Pierce. He's a wonderful writer; he tends toward snark, but not in this piece from Esquire: