The Bill Russell I Knew for 60 Years
Since I was 14, Bill Russell showed me how to be a better player--and a better man.
When I learned that my friend Bill Russell had died, I tweeted this response: “Bill Russell was the quintessential Big Man—not because of his height but because of the size of his heart. In basketball he showed us how to play with grace and passion. In life he showed us how to live with compassion and joy. He was my friend, my mentor, my role model.”
That’s as much truth as I could fit into 272 characters (with spaces). But there is a whole lot more truth and love and respect in my 60-year relationship with Bill Russell that I want to share so the world can know him, not just as one of the greatest basketball players to ever live, but as a man who taught me how to be bigger—as a player and as a man.
There will be many biographical articles extolling Bill’s many achievements as a player and as an activist. The records, the stats, the awards, etc. This is not that kind of article. This is simply about Bill and me and two long lives that intertwined for six decades.
My First Meeting with Bill Russell Went South Fast