Tuesday, August 02, 2022

The LuLac Edition #4, 777, August 2nd, 2022



Our “Maybe I’m Amazed” logo.

Bill Russell Edition

MAYBE I’M AMAZED…….that Russell stood 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) tall, with a 7 ft 4 in (2.24 m) arm span. He certainly had to have custom suits made for himself.

MAYBE I’M AMAZED…..that he  did three years from (1966–69) stint as player-coach for the Celtics, becoming the first black coach in the NBA and the first to win a championship.

MAYBE I’M AMAZED……that Russell was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975, was one of the founding inductees into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006, and was enshrined in the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2007. He was selected into the NBA 25th Anniversary Team in 1971 and the NBA 35th Anniversary Team in 1980, named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996,[5] one of only four players to receive all three honors, and selected into the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021. In 2009, the NBA renamed the NBA Finals MVP Award in his honor.In 2021, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame a second time for his coaching career.

MAYBE I’M AMAZED…….that Russell, originally born in Louisiana moved west with his family to Oakland. They settled into  a series of housing projects and did their  best to scrape their way out of poverty.

MAYBE I’M AMAZED…..that like so many great, late blooming athletes Russell  was ignored by college recruiters and received not one offer until recruiter Hal DeJulio from the University of San Francisco (USF) watched him play in a high school game. DeJulio was unimpressed by Russell's meager scoring and "atrocious fundamentals",  but he sensed that the young Russell had an extraordinary instinct for the game, especially in the clutch.  When DeJulio offered Russell a scholarship, he eagerly accepted.  It was an event that changed his life.

MAYBE I’M AMAZED……Besides basketball, Russell represented USF in track and field events. He was a standout in the high jump and according to Track & Field News was ranked the seventh-best high-jumper in the world in 1956, his graduation year, despite not competing in Olympic high-jump competition.

MAYBE I’M AMAZED…..that Russell almost became a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. Here’s what happened. The Harlem Globetrotters invited Russell to join their exhibition basketball squad. Russell, who was sensitive to any racial prejudice, was enraged by the fact that owner Abe Saperstein would not meet with him personally. Globetrotters assistant coach Harry Hanna tried to entertain Russell with jokes, but he was livid after this snub and declined the offer.

MAYBE I’M AMAZED……even though he was picked by the Celtics to be a pro player, Russell represented the U.S. in the 1956 Olympics. But like everything else, that was a struggle. Before his NBA rookie year, Russell was the captain of the 1956 U.S. men's Olympic basketball team that competed at the 1956 Summer Olympics, which would be held in November and December in Melbourne, Australia, in the Southern Hemisphere. Avery Brundage, head of the International Olympic Committee, argued that Russell had already signed a professional sport contract and was no longer an amateur sportsman, but Russell prevailed. Under head coach Gerald Tucker, Russell helped the U.S. national basketball team win the gold medal in Melbourne, defeating the Soviet Union national basketball team 89–55 in the final game with an 8–0 undefeated run.

MAYBE I’M AMAZED……that due to his Olympic commitment, Russell could not join the Celtics for the 1956–57 NBA season until December. Russell played 48 games, averaging 14.7 points per game and a league-high 19.6 rebounds per game. The 1956–57 Boston Celtics season saw the debut of a starting lineup made up of five future Hall-of-Famers: center Russell, forwards Heinsohn and Frank Ramsey, and guards Bill Sharman and Bob Cousy. K. C. Jones did not play for the Celtics until 1958 because of military service.Russell's first Celtics game came on December 22, 1956, against the St. Louis Hawks, led by star forward Bob Pettit, who would go on to hold several all-time scoring records. This core group was the start of a dynasty that would change Russell’s life and the NBA forever.(wikipedia, LuLac)


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