Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bill Russell teaches LeBron James a lesson

It's not just All-Star weekend without talking about some of the past greats of the game of basketball.

For 72 hours, all get to reminisce of the good old days and how times have changed. But of course comes the media's obsession with LeBron James and his thoughts on what he believes to be 'true', usually means you got a good story to chuckle about as you shake your head.

In an interview last week, Steve Smith asked LeBron to build a Mount Rushmore of all time NBA players. James listed Magic, Michael and Larry. But when it came to the fourth and final candidate, he struggled before settling and saying Oscar Robertson. And that ladies and gents, became the talk of the weekend for one reason and one reason only. He failed to mention only the greatest champion of all time on his list; Bill Russell.

To make matters worse, he offered that he could see himself on that mountain when his career is all said and done. Oh 'Bron Bron', you never seize to amaze me. But wait it gets better.

Bill Russell, who turned 80 last Thursday and got to celebrate his birthday all through the weekend in New Orleans, got 'Happy Birthday' sung to him by the entire arena during a timeout in the first quarter of the big game on Sunday night. It was after the timeout was over, TNT's Craig Sager let us all in on a little conversation Russell had with LeBron.

"Well before the game, LeBron James was talking to Bill Russell, " Sager said on the broadcast, "and Bill said, 'Hey thank you for leaving me off your Mount Rushmore. I'm glad you did. Basketball is a team game. It's not for individual honors. I won back-to-back state championships in high school, back-to-back NCAA championships in college, I won an NBA championship my first year in the league, an NBA championship my last year and nine in between. And that Mr. James, is etched in stone."

Talk about 'getting schooled' real quick by a Celtics legend.

LeBron has never paid respect where respect is due when it comes to Bill Russell. Granted I am the same age as 'Bron Bron' and I know he never watched Russell play nor did I. But even I know somewhat about basketball history, and it states that #6 not only won 11 championships but he was the first black coach in all of sports. Hell, he was the first player-coach ever. He transcended the game during a time when he was hated all over the country, even in the city where he called home for 13-years, because of the color of his skin.

At no point during those tough times did he ever make it all about him. Mr. Russell understood the fundamentals of what it means to 'do it for the team.' Something James knows very little about in today's world.

When asked last night about what Bill had said to him, he quickly gave a somewhat humbled response, then tried to brushed it off like only he can.

"Well obviously there's the utmost respect for Bill Russell and what he's been able to do, and not only on the floor, but off the floor too, being a pioneer, being one of the leaders that helped us get to this point, " James said. "He paved the way for myself and the guys that came after him. For me to comment on his comments, it doesn't matter to me. He has his own opinions. He's his own man and I'm my own man."

Right. So how about accepting the fact you messed up, you could have said yeah Bill is right. It doesn't matter what I think who the best four of all-time are, and not throw yourself into that conversation.

Did you forget that you believed MJ's #23 should be retired by the NBA and you went ahead and took your talents to South Beach, only to switch to Russell's number six as if to say he has never been a player you considered great in this league? Hey LeBron remember the two finals MVPs you own?

Yeah guess who the award is named after? Yup none other than the irrelevant Bill Russell! LBJ's ignorance kills me, and his opinions continue to make news.

When Kevin Durant was asked the same question on who he thought should be on the NBA's Mount Rushmore, he simply said there were far too many greats to name just four. He wasn't even trying to go there, that's how a mature, smart, super star player in today's NBA should respond. But unfortunately Durant's response was not news worthy, nor should it be.

So you see LeBron, you shouldn't be upset that the media cares so much about what you think, you should be trying to out smart them and stop saying thinks that make you look bad. At the end of the day you say you don't care what people think, but we all know you too well for that to be the case.

"These are my personal goals. I believe I can be one of the best, if not the best to ever play this game and that's my personal goal," James said. "If someone wants to throw dirt on my own personal goals, then they have a problem, not me."

February is black-history month, and LeBron should brushed up on what that means not just in sports world, but in general. It's safe to say MJ, Magic, Larry or Bill Russell, never sought out to be the best. Their goal was to win, and that's the difference. What they accomplished speaks for itself, and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't care one way or the other if they were on someones Mount Rushmore or not.

Their resumes are "etched in stone" even if their faces never will be.

School's out.

Joel Pav√≥n  

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