What about the criteria you posted on your "Anti-Jordan" page?
I created a web page explaining why Michael Jordan is not the greatest player of all-time. I list a criteria and I listed Russell #6. Why the change? I believe Russell was far more than I gave him credit for and I will explain.
He was rough on the offensive end, but that did not stop him from scoring over 18 ppg one season on a very loaded Celtics team. He was athletic, could jump, and run the floor. He finished in the top 10 in the league in assists 4 times. He played defense better than any player in history. His rebounding puts him in the elite category of himself, Wilt Chamberlain, and Dennis Rodman.
Can he fit on any team? Certainly. Defense and rebounding fits on all teams. The unselfish ability to hit the open man is a quality accepted on all teams. Having the ability to run the floor and with his unparalleled speed (he was the fastest big man to ever play the game), he gets easy points this way. Also, rather than block the shot out of bounds, he mastered the art of tipping it to a teammate, who started a fast break. His blocks were 4-point swings for his team. Therefore, consider these points generated from defense, from rebounds (since this is needed to start the explosive Celtics fast break), his passing, his easy points from running the floor, and from his basic half-court game. It may not go down as 35 ppg for Russell, but for the team, which is all Russell cared about, it went down as many, many points generated.
He's not going to post up on offense like Hakeem Olajuwon, but he does so much more. On a team where scoring is needed in the post, Russell would expand his game to become a better offensive player. He put the team ahead of himself, so he's going to win and succeed with any team. This attitude is what was lacking in some of the other greats. Consider:
After winning his first title, Wilt Chamberlain made it his goal to win the assists title rather than repeat as champions. He often feuded with coaches.
Michael Jordan said in his own book (Rare Air) that he wanted to win, but he wanted to be the reason that he won. His own teammates said that he was more interested in scoring titles than team championships. When head coach Phil Jackson asked Jordan to give up the scoring crown in 1991, Jordan refused (Chamberlain did give it up when asked in 1967).
Magic Johnson rebelled against head coach Paul Westhead in 1981, when Westhead worked on slowing down the offense. Johnson did not want to stop running and got Westhead fired.
Larry Bird complained about playing the point forward in 1990 under coach Jimmy Rogers.
Most of all, consider Russell's success: 2 titles in college, 11 in the pros. This success was with a variety of teammates. He won with offensive juggernaut Bob Cousy running the point and with defensive-minded, poor shooting K.C. Jones. Look at his first NBA title and his last. Who was the only constant? Russell. He wins with everybody. My criteria is consistent. My initial analysis of Russell was wrong.
Back to Basketball
Back to Air Judden's Homepage