Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Greatest

I would have rather had a couple of teeth pulled than watch an NBA All-Star game, but when I heard the score yesterday morning of 163 to 158, all I could think to myself was, “Are you kidding me?” I went to my local sports page to see what kind of horrible play would create what must have been a terrible game, and nobody seemed to call it a terrible game. Apparently Russell Westbrook scored 41 points which was 1 shy of the NBA All-Star record set by one of the most dominant scoring machines in NBA history, Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt had 4 NBA MVPs and 2 Championships. Wonder why he didn’t have more?
On February 12, 1934 in West Monroe Louisiana, Louisiana the greatest basketball player ever was born. Of course like me, nobody under the age of 45 was even alive when Bill Russell played professional basketball. The 6’ 10” center for the Boston Celtics highlighted the greatest dynasty in United States professional sports, and holds the record with Henri Richard of the Montreal Canadiens (yep the greatest dynasty in Canadian professional sports) for ELEVEN championships. Of course Russell also won 2 NCAA championships and a Gold Medal from the Olympics to go with all those other championships.
As great as Wilt Chamberlain was, he only served to make Bill Russell that much more impressive. People expected the Stilt to just beat everyone into submission, and Russell managed him. Of course this is the real reason Boston sports fans have been so insufferable over the years. I may not have been alive for the Russell era, but his legacy, (and Red Aurbach’s of course) cemented the fact that the Boston Celtics personified the capital of Winnerville. The fact that the Red Sox had become the joke of Baseball in all of the years they just didn’t win it all, added to that edge of the crabby winners.
I was fortunate enough to have news reports of how great the big three (Bird, McHale and Parrish) were during my teen years. It wasn’t enough to turn me into an actual basketball fan, but it was enough for me to notice. I know history though, because it is the type of person I am, and the Larry Bird, Magic Johnson thing was a great era to have been alive too. I just don’t see that very often in Basketball to get excited about a combined 321 points in an All-Star game. Something is missing there for me, and I still have the ability to talk Celtic with my father when I go to see him on the weekends.
Last week was Bill Russell’s birthday, and THAT gave me a history lesson from a man who is a real basketball fan, my dad. Anyone who doesn’t know about Bill Russell aside from what I wrote above, I would suggest that you go and read about the greatest player ever. He was also a great human being which really made everything that my father explained to me that much more exciting.