Wednesday, April 3, 2013

the last book I ever read (Bill Bradley's Life on the Run, excerpt fifteen)

from Life on the Run by Bill Bradley:

Bill Russell coaches the Seattle Supersonics with an authoritarian hand. His young players do not play well, and the frequent defeats put him, after years as a champion, in the unfamiliar position of being associated with a losing team. Even so, he seems unaffected, still walking with a pronounced stoop and laughing often in his unique cackle. He remains the competitor of the century. There is no way his team can continue to lose for long.

As a player, Russell was a remarkable innovator using his perfect timing to block shots and his exceptional quickness to dominate an opponent defensively. Until Russell’s entry into professional basketball, team defense counted for little. There were individual defensive stars, but rarely were there five men who worked as a unit defensively as well as they did offensively. Russell changed that. He played the middle on defense and encourages his teammates to overplay their men. He always stood behind them, poised to stop an opponent who broke free. The Celtic defense became more aggressive as it revolved around the “eagle with a beard,” as an opponent once called Russell. And defense in general became a more important part of the game.

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