Posts Tagged ‘Bill Russell’

What it’s all about …

December 19, 2008

Those who are able to watch this video clip and then try to blame the Captain of the Toronto Raptors for the current state of affairs with this team simply indicate their own lack of basketball acumen and sophistication: 

Although this young man can definitely score the ball, in this League, he is not a Prime Time scorer, per se.

What he is, at 24 years of age, in his 5th NBA season, is wise beyond his years, and made of championship material.

1. Find him the right teammates to play beside … like Jose Calderon, for example;

2. Use him at his best position, which is CENTER;

3. Make him focus on his individual strengths, as a person and a player … which include his intelligence, his imagination, his curiousity, his sense of team, his Rebounding, his off-the-ball Defense, his Shot-blocking, his transition game, his quickness and his agility;

4. Help him to better understand his place within the history of the game, and where it is he fits today within the panoramic landscape of Big Men … like Russell, Reed, Cowens, Hayes, Walton, Sikma, Abdul-Jabbar, Moses, Parrish, Laimbeer, Olajuwon, Robinson and Duncan … each one an unique center-piece for a championship team;

and what you will end up with is an extended run in the upper echelon of the NBA … if you really do know what you’re doing, in terms of building a TOP NOTCH organization, from the gound floor up, in the world’s best professional basketball league.

Fail to heed these words, however … and, instead, ask/demand/expect of him to be something which he is not … and it will simply be Just Another Lost Opportunity for the Toronto Raptors Basketball Club.

Players like this … with this sort of ability, stability and strength of character … only come around every so often Where Amazing Happens!

What happens when you’re young stays with you forever

November 4, 2008

In the early 1970’s, the fact is, ‘Mr. Clutch’ was the first favourite NBA player of this corner …

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Jerry West still is a reluctant sports hero
West can best be described as one of the most conflicted legendary sports heroes of our time. He is a man who has had a lifetime of success in nearly all facets and has never been comfortable with that.

Part of that might hark back to the third nickname, the one he likes the least: “Zeke from Cabin Creek.” That was placed on him by other players from bigger cities when he arrived in the NBA in 1960, the second pick of the draft and perhaps a comparative hick. He had been an All-American at West Virginia, and nobody questioned his basketball credentials. Nobody but him, that is.

“I didn’t think I was good enough to play in the pros,” he said back then.

As the second-youngest of six children growing up in the relative poverty of Cheylan, W.Va., and learning his basketball craft mostly alone on muddy outdoor courts with cheap hoops, West couldn’t have been less prepared for something like Los Angeles.

“Cabin Creek was about a mile away,” he said, elaborating with a snapshot of life in the ’50s in a coal mining state. “That’s where we got our mail. I’d run there and back. Maybe that’s why I was in such good shape to play basketball. I remember running past Wade’s Pool Hall on a Saturday morning. You could tell how wild a time the coal miners had had the night before by how many of the windows were broken out.”

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While time and increased maturity have succeeded in developing an increased appreciation for the outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the game of terrific players like, e.g. The Great Bill Russell, the ‘Big O’, Kareem, Dr. J, the ‘Moutain Man’, Magic & Bird [because they will forever be linked together], Isiah, MJ, Hakeem, Duncan, etc., it can never overshadow what it meant to these young eyes, late at night, watching on a grainy black & white TV a certain player, wearing #44, who just kept hitting big shot after big shot, in an effort to help his team win a rather silly game, played the Right Way, in short pants with a round ball and an elevated basket.

Although time marches on … you can never ever replace THAT.

The Cackle & The Logo … set for tip-off, again

October 28, 2008

My friends, it simply doesn’t get any better than this …

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Conversation: Bill Russell and Jerry West catch up
The NBA season is here! What better way to tip it off than with some insights from Hall of Famers Bill Russell and Jerry West?

They were happy to let us listen in as they reflected on their Celtics-Lakers rivalry, the offseason preparation needed to excel for 82 games, and what they are looking forward to most this NBA season. Here’s the conversation. Enjoy… we sure did.

Jerry West: Hello, Bill.

Bill Russell: Jerry, is that you?

Jerry West: Yes, it is.

Bill Russell: Now, Jerry, Cabin Creek, is that the place you’re from?

Jerry West: Yes, it is, Bill and I’m going to take you there before too long.

Bill Russell: Ok, let’s go. [cackles]

Jerry West: Bill, the NBA season is about to tip off, what are you most looking forward to?

Bill Russell: The Celtics and the Lakers. Both teams will have to improve to get back to the Finals. If you show up saying we’re the Lakers and the Celtics, you’ll get your hat brought to you. You lose some games and you say those are upsets. They will not be upsets.

For example, when Red [Auerbach] didn’t draft [Bob] Cousy, he drafted a guy named Charlie Share because George Mikan was the dominant player in the league and Share had the size and ability to compete with George. Red’s theory was: To be competitive you have to be competitive with the best teams.

All the teams are figuring a way to beat the Celtics and the Lakers. There were a lot of personnel changes [with both teams], not necessarily star players, but players that become part of their rotation. So I would give both teams a heads up that to get back to the Finals, you’re going to have to be better than last year.

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Mandatory reading for all! 🙂

More Raptors’ kool-aid mix

September 24, 2008

Okay … this one truly is Simply Irrestible.

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Jermaine in Toronto: Beyond the Obvious
This highlighted a long-standing problem for Toronto; the Raptors’ abject lack of interior defense, as well as the fact that we continued to play Chris Bosh out of position at the center spot despite the fact that he’s not physically equipped to handle a behemoth like Dwight with any reasonable hope for success.

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Chris Bosh [6-11, 210] is somehow not equipped to handle a behemoth like Dwight Howard [6-10, 240]?

Please.

Bill Russell was 6-9, 215.
Wilt Chamberlain was 7-1, 250. 

Seems like Russ did just fine, back in the day. 🙂

It’s amazing that this ^^^ type of nonsense is still being circulated on the net by most some Raptors’ fans who really should know better, by this point … given the performance just given by Chris Bosh, this summer, representing Team USA, at the Beijing Olympics, and what’s been crystal clear to some NBA observers for a long, long time …

* Chris Bosh’s strength as a player and a person
* Redeem Team accomplishes mission
* De-constructing the mystery that is Chris Bosh

Those Raptors’ faithful who STILL DON’T GET IT … are simply deluding themselves, if they think Chris Bosh’s best option in the NBA is to play, night-in and night-out, as a Power Forward.

Q&A: Did Bosh convince you in Beijing?

In the experience of this observer … one dimensional and ultra-conventional, stuck-inside-the-box, old school thinking is the standard method of operation for the majority of this team’s fans, who are exceptionally active in the blogosphere … but are not necessarily the most acute, in the NBA today.

In sharp contrast to what you might think, and what the Raptors’ organization might WANT their fans to believe, Chris Bosh’s optimal position in the NBA is CENTER … the position he just played for the Redeem Team.

This is the position which best suits his character, his unique skill set, and at which he can take best advantage of the mis-match possibilities he presents – offensively, defensively and rebounding-wise – for his team, in the NBA [as well as, in the FIBA Game] … not the Power Forward spot.

While the Raptors’ basketball braintrust, and the majority of their fans, might now be enamoured with the option of playing Jermaine O’Neal at Center for their team, in place of Chris Bosh, it seems they will need to learn the hard way that … all is not as simple as it looks, at first-glance, and … there are some things in this world which, might be delectable to the eye but, are in need of avoidance, at all costs, as a violation of straight-forward ‘Foundation Principles’ of the game …

e.g. Quickness, relative to an Opponent, at the position played, is the most important athletic quality for a basketball player. – John Wooden

Although increased POWER may be alluring, it does not pave the road to success in hoops.

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How can it be permissible
[S]he compromise my principle, yeah yeah
That kind of love is mythical
[S]hes anything but typical

[S]hes a craze youd endorse, [s]hes a powerful force
Youre obliged to conform when theres no other course
[S]he used to look good to me, but now I find her

Simply irresistible
Simply irresistible

[Her] His loving is so powerful, huh
Its simply unavoidable
The trend is irreversible
The [woman] man is invincible

[S]hes a natural law, and she leaves me in awe
[S]he deserves the applause, I surrender because
[S]he used to look good to me, but now I find [her] him

Simply irresistible
Simply irresistible

Simply irresistible [s]hes so fine, theres no tellin where the money went
Simply irresistible [s]hes all mine, theres no other way to go

[S]hes unavoidable, Im backed against the wall
[S]he gives me feelings like I never felt before
Im breaking promises, [s]hes breaking every law
[S]he used to look good to me, but now I find [her] him

Simply irresistible
[S]hes so fine, theres no tellin where the money went
Simply irresistible [s]hes all mine, theres no other way to
Go

[Her] His methods are inscrutable
The proof is irrefutable, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh
[S]hes so completely kissable, huh
Our lives are indivisible

[S]hes a craze youd endorse, [s]hes a powerful force
Youre obliged to conform when theres no other course
[S]he used to look good to me, but now I find [her] him

Simply irresistible
Simply irresistible

[S]hes so fine, theres no tellin where the money went
Simply irresistible [s]hes all mine, theres no other way to go
[S]hes so fine, theres no tellin where the money went
Simply irresistible [s]hes all mine, theres no other way to go

Simply irresistible – [Robert Palmer] Bryan Colangelo

2nd Comings in the Pacific Northwest

September 23, 2008

Q1. What are the reasons you have lost your mind and predicted boldly that the 2008-2009 LA Lakers will win 70+ regular season games and capture the NBA Championship?

A1. If you must know, it’s a two-part answer.

PART ONE
The Lakers have done a solid job re-assembling a 1st-class roster of highly talented, athletic, skilled, complimentary players around Phil Jackson & Kobe Bryant, two expert practicioners in their respective fields, i.e. ZenMaster Warlord, and his Most Trusted Samurai. On the heels of the experience this team gained last season, losing in the NBA FINALS, it is now poised to strike back with lethal vengence, this season … to provide the 10th NBA Title, as a coach, for their venorable Sensai; and, the 1st Ring (overall) for his protege, Black Mamba, unaccompanied by his former partner-in-crime, the Biggest-Shogun-of-All-Time. According to these eyes, this is THE season for these Lakers to make history, as a group. Here & Now. Next season? Who knows where Phil Jackson is going to be, at his age? Or, Lamar Odom? Or, Derek Fisher? Or, Tex Winter? Or, the rest of the Lakers’ extended family. The time for this group, to ‘Be In The Moment, as One‘, is NOW. 

“Life is fast; and, things happen quickly”.Derek Fisher

PART TWO
This MAN, right here …

is about to make his long-awaited debut, in the NBA, this season …

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Q & A with Greg Oden
NBA.com: What are your goals for the upcoming season?
Greg Oden: Just to win. To try to get out there and help my team win as much as possible. I’m not really worried about individual stats. For me, if my team can make the playoffs or we can win a lot more games than we did last year, then that will satisfy me.

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and this corner just happens to believe that he is going to prove to be, in the long run, the closest thing this League has seen, in the LAST 40 YEARS, to the re-incarnation of The Great Man, himself … Mr. Bill Russell (figuratively speaking, of course, as the original incarnation is still going strong!) combined with Wilt Chamberlain (at his most powerful best) … in terms of his Commitment to REBOUNDING, Defense, Team & Individual Offense AND his overall attitude toward The Game (specifically) & Life (in general).

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NBA.com: You got to know the greatest big man in Blazers history, Bill Walton, a little bit. What advice has he shared with you?
Greg Oden: He’s just telling me if you go out there and play, you don’t have to worry about what people say about you in the news or the media. Just go out there and play your game and have fun with it. It’s just a game. You’ve got to understand that you’re a rookie. Don’t put any pressure on yourself that isn’t needed.

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If the Lakers DO NOT win the championship this season … each year that goes by it is going to get more and more difficult for them – and the other elite level teams in the Western Conference – to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers, anchored in the middle by Gregory Wayne Oden, Jr., over the course of the next decade, or so.

When you find yourself standing squarely between a Rock (i.e. last year’s group of Boston Celtics) and a Hard Place (Greg Oden’s Portland Trail Blazers for the next 10-15 years) … it can do wonders to create an extraordinary sense of urgency, and R.E.S.P.E.C.T., for the moment at-hand. Carpe Diem!

Destiny Awaits! … THIS, specific Lakers’ team

… which will NEED to strike while the iron is hot … and, before the sparks ignite, full blown, up the Pacific Coastline, in the Emerald City.

Shaq’s all-time ranking, as a dominant player

September 17, 2008

In his weekly chat, David Thorpe [ESPN NBA Insider/Analyst] provides his succinct assessment of Shaquille O’Neal’s legacy, as an NBA player, when all is said and done:

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Christopher, Germany: Hi David, love your chats. After they ended their carreers, who ranks higher on the all-time list: Shaq or Kobe?

SportsNation David Thorpe: Shaq.

Nate (New Haven): David, no way shaq ends up higher. Kobe’s got 3 rings, 5 finals appearences, same number of all nba teams and 8 more defensive team appearences. What planet are you living on?

SportsNation David Thorpe: Shaq is top 3 all time in terms of pure dominance. His stats are unreal. Here on earth, we consider such things.

Christopher, Germany: who are the other two all-time-best in pure dominance?

SportsNation David Thorpe: I’d suggest Wilt and Kareem, in totally different ways.

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Well … this corner of the blogosphere does NOT concur with Mr. Thorpe’s opinion … in regard to the ‘Big Aristotle’, as a once dominant NBA player.

Speaking strictly as a Center … Shaq doesn’t place in the Top 5 all-time … amongst those I would choose to anchor the middle for a Dream Team.

1. Bill Russell [11 NBA titles in 13 years … nuff, said]
2. Kareem Abdul Jabbar [the greatest offensive force in hoops’ history]
3. Hakeem Olajuwon [the most skilful Post Player of all-time]
4. Wilt Chamberlain [the most physically dominant player in any era]
5. Tim Duncan [the Big Fundamental … nuff, said]

When considering other players, as well, who’ve played other positions … at least, the following individuals would also rank well above ‘the Diesel’, in terms of their all-time dominance … 

1. Michael Jordan
2. Oscar Robertson
3. Magic Johnson
4. Larry Bird
5. Kobe Bryant

at the height of their physical prowess.

There’s no doubt whatsoever that Shaquille O’Neal is the single Most Powerful Force [of Nature] in the history of the game … i.e. combining Size, Strength, Speed, Agility, Quickness, Explosivity and Intelligence.

This FACT is a given.

BUT[T] … and, it’s a rather LARGE One, at this point … there is simply NO WAY, SHAPE or FORM, he should legitimately be listed amongst the MOST EFFECTIVE [i.e. ‘the Greatest’, or ‘the Best’, or ‘the Most Dominant’] players of all-time.

Whether your are ranking by (i) most championships won, (ii) most all-star appearances, (iii) most prolific individual statistics, or (iv) most combined areas of standard productivity/efficiency measures … including overall skill level and/or competitive will, etc., … neither Shaq’s actual performance nor his crunched numbers [associated with his overall body of work] stack up well, in comparison with the greatest players in the history of the game.

Chris Bosh should be starting for Team USA

August 15, 2008

This is the answer which was given in this space [August 4, 2008]  to the following question:

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5. Carlos Boozer and Chris Bosh will be fighting for the back-up Center minutes; who should win the job?

This is a silly question.

If Team USA wanted to dominate the international competition this year … the most potent line-up it could put on the floor would see Carlos Boozer at the 4/Power Forward AND Chris Bosh at the 5/Center positions, not ‘fighting for the back-up Center minutes.

For further explanation, see the link provided in the answer to Question #3. -)

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that was asked by the good folks at Upside and Motor, in their Team USA Blogger Roundtable [to which this corner had not received an invite 🙂 ].

10 days later …

Raptors’ Chris Bosh emerging as a leader for the U.S. team: Draws rave reviews from coach, teammates with strong showing on defense

and it is somewhat gratifying to see that one or two others in the basketball community [at-large] have at last begun to ‘see’ what this corner has known about this young man [Chris Bosh], as a Center in the NBA, for a VERY LONG TIME …

De-constructing the mystery that is Chris Bosh [April 21, 2008]

It never ceases to amaze what some so-called ‘NBA experts’ think they understand about the game.

Boston Celtics, NBA Champions (2007-2008)

June 18, 2008

Basketball is a game played in three distinct phases:

* Offense
* Defense
* Rebounding

What it takes to win the NBA Championship [Dec 12, 2007]

Teams which combine these three phases of the game, in the most well-balanced way, succeed … on and off the court.

Quality Rating (QR) is a simple measure which combines the:

* Points Scored Differential Ranking (PSDR)
* Points Allowed Ranking (PAR)
* Rebounding Differential Ranking (RDR)

to produce a Quality Index Ranking for each of the 16 teams which eventually make the playoffs in the NBA.

Legitimate Contenders in the NBA, Part I [Dec 18, 2007]

Since the early part of the 2007-2008 regular season schedule, the Celtics established themselves as THE dominant team in the League; at one juncture, ranking #1 in all three measures (i.e. PSDR, PAR & RDR) and with a QR of 3 …

Legitimate Contenders in the NBA: Part V [Apr 18, 2008]

which, fundamentally, did not change throughout the balance of the season.

Most NBA observers fail to understand the value of Rebounding & Defense at the highest level of competition.

Most NBA observers fail to understand the value of Individual Match-ups & Mis-matches in determining Winners & Losers within a specific game.

Most NBA observers fail to understand the value of a Core Covenant built upon Rebounding, Defense, Individual Match-ups and the concepts of Shared (Unselfish) Offense, Teamwork and Ubuntu!

Red Auerbach understood these things.
Bill Russell understands these things.

So, now, does Danny Ainge …
and Doc Rivers,
and Thom Thibodeau, Armond Hill, Kevin Eastman & Clifford Ray,
and Bryan Doo, Walter Norton & Ed Lacerte,
and Paul Pierce, Ray Allen & Kevin Garnett,
and Kendrick Perkins & Rajon Rondo,
and James Posey, Eddie House & Scott Pollard,
and Tony Allen, Leon Powe & Brian Scalabrine,
and Glen Davis & Gabe Pruitt,
and PJ Brown & Sam Cassell.

As did Grady Rivers.

Kudos to the Men in Green … on a job supremely well done, from worst to first!

Commemorating the greatest basketball player of all-time

June 9, 2008

Calls grow louder for Boston to erect statue to honor Bill Russell
He’s the most decorated sports champion in a city of sport champions. He won 11 world titles as a player, two of those while simultaneously coaching and playing. He was named to the All-Star team 12 times and Most Valuable Player five times.

But in the city he so decorated, there is no statue, plaque, street marker or tunnel that mentions the name Bill Russell …

“It needs to be done,” Kilbert Pierce Jr. said. “It’s not an easy thing either. It’s a real touchy subject. Russell was never one to mince words. That was then, this is now. It doesn’t seem Bill Russell is holding a grudge against Boston. It’s time for Boston to show appreciation by building a statue to him.”

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Time for the City of Boston to step up to the plate and simply Do The Right Thing for Mr. William Russell.

Rick Reilly’s debut for ESPN The Magazine

June 4, 2008

It never ceases to amaze how important Hurt is in the development of a human being and the role that Sport can play in that Life.

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The Life of Reilly: Dad played golf and drank—a lot. But he taught me a lot too.
Golf was this green-and-blue launching pad for little white rockets. Golf taught me the lessons my dad never did, including the best one: You play life where it lies. You hit it there. You play it from there. Nobody threw you a nasty curve or forgot to block the defensive end. I learned that my mistakes were mine alone, not my boss’, not the cop’s and, as much as I hated to admit it, not my dad’s.

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Bill Russell speaks with Kevin Garnett
I don’t think that you will encounter anyone happier than I am … it’s almost serious … but the first thing that I knew as a human being was that my mother and father loved me … and, that’s what you got to give your kids, okay? … and, in doing that, it will enhance your Life, so much … and that, that what you’re doing now is a piece of cake. – Bill Russell

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What matters most in this world.