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Blog Entry

On Wilt's day, Russell takes a pass

Posted on: March 1, 2012 7:57 pm
 
The 50th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game is not only an occasion to remember the accomplishment, but also the man.

What better way to reflect on Chamberlain’s signature moment than through the eyes of his friend and most bitter rival?

So I called Bill Russell, the 11-time champion of the Celtics, and asked if he’d be so kind as to share his thoughts about the occasion 50 years ago Friday. I’ll provide his response, followed by the context.
 
The response from Russell: “Not really.”

“Is it a bad time, or is it a topic you don’t really want to talk about?”

“A little of both,” he said.

And that was that. I apologized for the intrusion and wished Russell the best.

“No intrusion,” Russell said. “And thank you.”

I shared the conversation with Sy Goldberg, Chamberlain’s longtime friend and attorney. On the phone from Los Angeles, Goldberg was neither surprised nor particularly offended by Russell’s reaction.

“There was a love-hate relationship between these two guys,” Goldberg said.

Let it be noted that Russell, who turned 78 last month, harbors no grudges or animosity toward Chamberlain – nothing different than they ever did, anyway. Goldberg said in the old days, the NBA used to schedule the Sixers and Celtics on Thanksgiving Day, and when the game was in Philadelphia, Russell was a guest at casa de Chamberlain for Thanksgiving dinner.

“Russell was there all the time,” Goldberg said. “They were close friends.”

But Chamberlain never forgave Russell for questioning his toughness after Lakers coach Jan van Breda Kolff refused to put an injured Chamberlain back into Game 7 of the 1969 NBA Finals against the Celtics. Chamberlain had asked out with six minutes left and asked back in with three minutes left, but van Breda Kolff declined. The Celtics won, 108-106, for their second straight championship and last of the Russell era.

“That day, Russell said something like, ‘I don’t care how bad he was, I would never have come out of the game,’” Goldberg said. “Wilt never forgave him for that.”

But with Russell and Chamberlain, the hard feelings weren’t permanent. On the day Chamberlain died of heart failure, Oct. 12, 1999, Goldberg got a call from a frantic Russell, who didn’t want to believe the news.

“I had been called by the gardener, and the police were there, and it was real pandemonium,” Goldberg said. “And I got a call from Bill Russell. His quote was: ‘I wouldn’t believe any news at all unless you tell me it’s true.’ And he sounded like he was devastated.”

In the old days, Chamberlain got all the attention and Russell got most of the championships. So on the eve of Wilt’s 100-point anniversary, the old Celtic stays quiet.

Maybe that’s for the best. Maybe that’s how Wilt would’ve wanted it.
Comments

Since: Dec 1, 2009
Posted on: March 9, 2012 1:05 am
 

On Wilt's day, Russell takes a pass

Capt. Lou wrote: " That Russell the ego-maniac  would question Wilt's resolve and heart is no surprise.
Russelll always was  obnoxious &  the psuedo-intellectual. He always thought he was smarter than he really was.
What a  pompous ass. "

Do tell. (1) Russell was and is a JUSTIFIABLY proud man, one who's had to "defend" himself against all too many low-lifes like yourself down through the years. He's long since past gotten a mite tired of doing so, with good reason. (2) Your specific criticisms of Russ beg a question. Are you a white man who simply cannot abide any black man who excels at anything, much less one who is (justly) lionized for it? Or, are you a black man who simply cannot abide any black man who excels at anything, thereby pointing up your own anonymity and/or mediocrity? Which is it that you defend, the color line or the principal of the salad bowl?




Since: Dec 1, 2009
Posted on: March 9, 2012 12:52 am
 

On Wilt's day, Russell takes a pass

LionsLoseAgain wrote: "Wilt just beat up on terrible competition. I would love to see him try to get half that in todays NBA. He was a man among boys back then."

When Big Bob Lanier, who's also in the HOF, broke into the NBA, he made the mistake of face-guarding the Stile a little too closely on an in-bounds pass. Exasperated, Wilt looked out of the corner of his eye at the Ref, who pointedly turned his head away from the play. Wilt then reached out, casually plucked the 6'11", 250-lb. Lanier off the ground WITH ONE HAND, put him to one side, and threw the ball in. Bob later said that he felt as if he'd felt the hand of his father for the first time.

And Lanier was himself a beast of a man, as well as one hell of a center.




Since: Dec 1, 2009
Posted on: March 9, 2012 12:37 am
 

On Wilt's day, Russell takes a pass

ClasslessRinger, you almost got it right. Wilt was proud of those 20,000 conquests all right, but he hinted that he might have been even prouder of the fact that none of those women ever seemed to have a single bad thing to say about him. He was also a very gentle man, which proved to be a handicap against Russ. (If only Bill had been as stupid as some of the other people around the league. He and Red made real sure that nobody did or said anything that might awaken Wilt's inner beast. He was NOT a man whom it was a very good idea to anger.)



Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: March 4, 2012 1:41 pm
 

On Wilt's day, Russell takes a pass

I agree...Wilt would probably just be an "average" center today...of course, he would be what, 75 YEARS OLD? 


ANYONE WHO DOUBTS WILT'S PLACE IN THE RECORD BOOKS....HASN'T RESEARCHED THEM!!!  One of his most unbreakable records, in my opinion, is AVERAGING 48.5 MINUTES A GAME, FOR THE WHOLE SEASON!  Today if a "star" gets close to 30 a game the coach is liable to get fired.


NBA chanell has aired a documentary on the anniversary of Wilt's 100 point game (March 2nd 1962) this week...the NARRATOR?  BILL RUSSELL!!!    Who, by the way, barely makes my ALL TIME 15 man team.  NOT a "Pseudo" intellectual...he was, and is...an intellectual, who "took a pass" NOT on Wilt but the writer of this article!
 

After all, how many requests do you think Russell gets this time of year?  When you're 78, let me know how much you enjoy talking about the greatest sports writer of all time...not YOU...:-)    



Since: Jan 16, 2012
Posted on: March 3, 2012 4:12 pm
 

On Wilt's day, Russell takes a pass

You guys are over analyzing this. He just forgot to take his Miralax.



Since: Sep 8, 2008
Posted on: March 3, 2012 12:01 pm
 

On Wilt's day, Russell takes a pass

Wilt and Russ would both be great today and 50 years from now--They might not be as dominant given the competition but both would be All Star -  MVP  calibre guys.

Re Russ' no comment--so he is a moody guy- He could have given a bland friendly comment and probably should have ( no skin off his ass to do so) but so what? - The 100 points is a cool iconic number but hardly defines Wilt or the pioneering body of work he and Russel both did in the NBA.




Since: Aug 13, 2006
Posted on: March 3, 2012 11:51 am
 

On Wilt's day, Russell takes a pass

  That Russell the ego-maniac  would question Wilt's resolve and heart is no surprise.
Russelll always was  obnoxious &  the psuedo-intellectual. He always thought he was smarter than he really was.
What a  pompous ass.








"There are two types of superstars. One makes himself look good at the expense of the other guys on the floor. But there's another type who makes the players around him look better than they are, and that's the type Russell was." 


The man was what he was. he stood his ground an spoke the truth, no fables no lies, he vented his frustration , spoke about it and came clean

No lies, no deciet. Not many atheletes doing that today with all the millions they make so try to realize and understand the other HUMAN BEING at his time in life and waht life presented to him, his family and a job he did on the court


Just TRY and if you do that, I'd think otherwise of your opinion



Since: Dec 24, 2009
Posted on: March 3, 2012 10:19 am
 

On Wilt's day, Russell takes a pass

Wilt was one of the greatest athletes that ever lived. HE was a Trackstar and Volleyball player and a pretty good actor as well.Fight promoters wanted to match him up with Ali and rumor has it Ali said no. Jim Brown who is widley considerd one of the greatest all round athletes of our time would go to parties and challenge Wilt to races and strength competions but could never beat him. Wilt was probably most proud of his great gift with the Ladies which according to his numbers went over 20000 conquests. We miss you Wilt and your 100 points in an NBA game will never be broken. RIP.



Since: Jan 21, 2007
Posted on: March 3, 2012 8:46 am
 

On Wilt's day, Russell takes a pass

There are some great posts on this thread about the NBA back in the day. Back then, the NBA in the 60s and probably up into the mid-70s, it was a center-dominating league until the advent of 3-point shot. If you didn't have a big man, you're were pretty much out of the playoff picture. For example, Oscar Robertson, if he were playing today, could carry a team like Kobe Bryant to the playoffs. It wasn't until he got traded to the Milwaukee Bucks from the Cincinnati Royals, he got to play along side Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) that he finally got his championship. I believe that the ABC network televised the games in the early 70s with the late Chris Schenkel and Jack Twyman doing the games.




Since: Aug 13, 2006
Posted on: March 3, 2012 7:24 am
 

On Wilt's day, Russell takes a pass

I also watched them play and listened to some of the games on the radio and at that time Johnny Most was the announcer and he made it all the better,lol!


The 100 points scored for 1 game is a record that will never be broken imo'


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