NBA History & Legends (Youtube)
Bill Russell continued to watch the orange ball carefully following his retirement, keen to see how his discipline would evolve. The NBA legend, who has just passed away, had a very specific darling. He had paid him a huge tribute years ago.
With his eleven championship titles, the last having been acquired as a coach-player, Bill Russell is an absolute legend of basketball across the Atlantic. The former Boston pivot dominated the rackets for years, standing up to a monster like Wilt Chamberlain in particular. His defensive skills as well as his leadership logically inspired more than one thereafter, several stars such as Kevin Garnett or Charles Barkley saluting him for his legacy.
Conversely, the ex-big man also had views on some of his successors on the floors. Michael Jordan was not necessarily one of them, as he proved with a wild punchline against His Airness, though he respected him for his greatness. Unsurprisingly, it is on the side of the racket that we must turn, and more particularly to San Antonio where a certain Tim Duncan prevailed. Russell has never hidden that he adored him, as he explained in front of the latter a few years ago:
We have so much in common. I feel very flattered to be compared to you.
When the most successful athlete in the history of American team sport says such a thing about you, you’ve done it all. The Big Fundamental has never been the flashiest player, but his discipline and self-sacrifice have earned him the admiration of many big names in the orange ball. Celtic went even further, sharing an anecdote about him to show their counterpart how much they appreciate him:
Bill Russell big fan of Tim Duncan
Bill Russell to Tim Duncan:
“When Jackie Robinson died, his wife called me and asked me to be a pallbearer at Jackie’s funeral. I said of course, but I asked why? She said you were Jackie’s favorite athlete and that’s the same way I feel about you.” pic.twitter.com/h9l7bHkGKt
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) July 31, 2022
Do you know the name of Jackie Robinson (baseball legend, editor’s note)? The day after he died, his wife called me and said, “I want you to carry the casket to Jackie’s funeral. I said, “Of course, but may I ask why?” She said ‘you were Jackie’s favorite athlete’ and that’s how I feel about you. You played hard, you played smart, you won titles, and I don’t think you’re done with that yet.
The legend was not mistaken on this point, since TD ended up winning a fifth title in 2014, two years before retiring after a long career of 19 years. One can hardly imagine how the Spurs leader must have felt hearing those words, especially from one of his most illustrious seniors. Proof also that Billou knew how to live with the evolution of the game, it having changed a lot between his time and the 21st century.
Bill Russell deeply adored Tim Duncan, to the point of paying him a tribute as powerful as it is moving. The Big Fundamental must certainly be among those most affected by the passing of the former kingpin. It’s not every day that you get duped like this.