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Re: Bird vs Russell

Geez, what a fabulous post!! It's one I'll save for sure. I only wish it
had gone on longer.


Mike Dynon wrote "re:Bird v Russell":

> Guess I qualify as a "veteran fan"--I began following the NBA in the
> mid-60s--so here are some stories.
> I saw both Russell and Bird play in person dozens of times, and on TV
> a
> zillion times.  Larry is a Legend, but Russ was the supreme winner of
> all time.  He won titles in college (2), the Olympics and the pros (11
> of 13).  He never lost a Game 7.  He wasn't a scorer, but in the 7th
> game of the '62 finals he had 30 pts., 40 rebs.  He was the first
> agile
> big man, who could outquick the strong guys and outjump the quick guys
> (I have a picture of him blocking Wilt's finger-roll; the ball is 6
> inches out of Wilt's hand and Russ is stretched completely vertical).
> Russ was an intelligent intimidator who excelled in psyching out the
> opposition.
> Although I grew up in Brooklyn, I was a Celtics fan from the
> beginning,
> and would go to the old Madison Square Garden on W. 50th St. whenever
> Boston came in.  I distinctly remember a game in the mid-60s where the
> Knicks led by 14 with 8 minutes left when the NY coach inserted 12th
> man
> Dave Deutsch.  Ah, but it wasn't garbage time yet.  The Celts made a
> big
> comeback, and with seconds left Russell (!) made a sweeping hook from
> the left of the lane to win it.
> In 1968, I enrolled at Boston Univ., in large part because it's in
> Boston (hey, I had to be somewhere).  It was 1968-69, Russell's last
> season, and tickets were plentiful.  I went to probably 20 reg. season
> games and every playoff game.
> The Celts were old that season--Russ, Sam, Bailey Howell were all on
> their last legs--and other teams were on the rise.  The Bullets had
> ROY/MVP Wes Unseld; Philly had Cunningham, Greer and Chet Walker; NY
> had
> just traded for DeBusschere and was one year away from winning a
> title;
> and the Lakers had traded for Wilt and still had West and Baylor at
> their peak.  The Celts finished 4th in the east at 48-34, they did not
> have the homecourt in any series, and everyone outside Boston thought
> the dynasty was dead.
> But Russ (as player-coach) logged more minutes that season than a
> young
> Havlicek, and averaged 20 reb/game.  The Celts beat Philly in five
> (with
> three road wins), NY in six (with two one-point victories), and
> against
> the Lakers (the big favorite with their Big Three) came back from an
> 0-2
> deficit and won game 7 *in LA.*
> It's funny--Jerry West was known as "Mr. Clutch," but he never got
> past
> the Celts.  Larry, Magic, Michael, Kareem, Mikan were some of the
> biggest winners in NBA history.  But NO ONE knew how to win like Bill
> Russell.