We’ve been getting bits and pieces of the reports about Bill Russell having heart surgery and his recovery, but there were not many details.
But in a Q&A with NBA.com Russell was up front about what happened, the surgery he had three weeks ago and he made it sound like it was no big deal… almost.
I had a valve in my heart that had to be replaced and the way you replace it is by open-heart surgery. Well, open-heart surgery sounds difficult but this was not an emergency. It was something I had to do. The same operation in an emergency is life threatening. This was not life threatening.
They took the valve out and replaced it. It only took a couple of hours to do that. I talked to the doctors after and they said they were pleased with the procedure. They said I would be sore after a while and after that, they said I would feel better than I ever did at this point.
What Russell did not get to do following the surgery was play golf or take a cross-country drive, two of his favorite things. But he is working his way through rehab and getting better.
We all wish him the best with his recovery and hope he is on the golf course again soon. Plus, we want to see him back at Celtics games.
We reported a few days ago that Celtics icon Bill Russell had undergone a couple of heart procedures, which had kept him resting in his Seattle area home rather than attending charity events. We didn’t know much else.
An updated report says Russell is doing well and could be back in Boston for events next month.
Russell’s business manager Stuart Layne spoke with the Celtics (who relayed the info to ESPNBoston.com) and said that Russell is feeling better each day.
Recovery from these things is never easy (and never linear, there are good and bad days) but we hope he is making progress and that we will see him in Boston late next month when the Celtics open their season.
We don’t have a lot of details here, all we can do is hope for the best.
Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell was not at a youth charity golf event in Long Island last weekend — an event to which he has deep personal ties as one of the founders of the MENTOR organization. Now we find out why, via Peter Vecsey on twitter (hat tip to CelticsBlog).
Bill Russell was unable to make trip to Eastern LI from Seattle. He had 2 heart procedures within last month. Some days worse than others.
We all wish Russell the best as he recovers at his home in Seattle. Hope to see him around NBA events again soon.
In the NBA, left handers throw guys off. You have to close out on shooters differently, you need to expect different moves in the post, they want their passes in slightly different locations. You need to be able to do certain things with both hands to really thrive in the NBA, but we all have a dominant hand.
Who are the greatest left handers in the history of the NBA?
Dime Magazine has asked that question and come up with list of the top 10 lefties in NBA history. We’re not going to totally ruin the list — you should click the link — but here are their top 3 and it is all legendary big men.
1) Bill Russell. Pretty hard to argue this, and if you do he’ll show you his two handfuls of rings. Plus one. There were 11 rings, 12 NBA All-Star games, five league MVPs, a guy known as the game’s greatest shot blocker and paint defender who averaged 15.1 points per game scoring. He gets shafted in the GOAT conversation, but not when it comes to lefties.
2) Willis Reed. Another legendary big man of another era, an anchor and inspiration for a Knicks championship team. He had career averaged of 18.7 points per game (five seasons above 20 PPG) and 12.9 rebounds. He was a force of nature in the late 1960s/early 1970s. He was a seven-time All-Star, MVP, two-time finals MVP, Rookie of the Year and a guy deserving to be on the list.
3) David Robinson. The Admiral is another legendary big man, who averaged 21.1 percent shooting on 51.8 percent shooting for his career, plus averaged 10.6 rebounds and three blocked shots a game. He’s got two NBA championship rings, one NBA MVP and 10 All-Star appearances. He was the first foundation of the Spurs dynasty.
There are guards on the list, go check it out.
Bill Russell gets named among the very best centers ever to play the game because he could defend and rebound as well or better than anyone in his generation. He gets mentioned because he’s got 11 championship rings and anchored a dominant Celtics team.
But he was better on offense than you think.
In a great post at Behind the Basket, Zachariah Blott breaks down the numbers from the Celtics of that era and shows that Russell was a key part of the offense, it wasn’t all Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman.
He starts with this point — those Celtics liked to run a lot and many of those breaks started with Russell grabbing the rebound and throwing the outlet pass, or maybe a Russell block. Which is to say, he wasn’t the guy who easily got out for the easy baskets.
The other point is that these Celtics were built as a passing team that shared the scoring load. When you look at it in that context, you see that Russell was a guy creating a lot of offense plus getting his share of points (he averaged 15.1 points per game for his career, and had a high of 18.9, with always one of the highest shooting percentages on the team).
No rational person can look at his stats within the context of his team, which was often one of the top-scoring clubs in the league, and not think Russell was a pretty good offensive player. Factoring in his unique place on Boston’s defense-to-offense transition game (teammates often didn’t play great defense knowing Russell would neutralize the threat as it got closer to the hoop and so that they could already be sprinting down the court by the time Russell grabbed the board or block), it’s not a stretch to say he was the most important offensive player for many of these nine seasons.
Russell’s defense and rebounding were the cornerstone of a Celtics team that dominated a decade like no other. But don’t think he was a one-dimensional player — he is one of the greatest centers ever for a reason.