Russell discusses Auerbach book
|06.09.09 at 9:42 am ET|
Following the release of his new book, Red and Me: My Coach, My Lifelong Friend, Bill Russell sat down with USA Today to discuss his relationship with Red Auerbach. Click here for the complete interview. Excerpts include:
Q: Would Red have been able to adapt to today’s NBA player?
A: I tell you something: He would not have had to adapt. He always took the players as they came to him. He didn’t make any (preconceived) judgment. All he was interested in was, ‘Can this player help me win games?’
When I started playing, he said he didn’t know what I was doing because he had never seen anything like that. I went against everything. I started defense to offense. Everybody else was (the opposite), including him. He saw things I did and, after he understood them, made it part of his system. We were learning from each other.
When I was a rookie, I had a beard (against league policy regarding facial hair). He never once said anything about it. Not one single time. He never put artificial pressure on our backs.
Q: Why did the Celtics always stand during timeouts?
A: That started before I joined the team. Red had a thing — the Celtics never sat during timeouts because we were always in shape. We didn’t need to rest — it was a (psychological tactic used against opposing teams).
But my first game, I went and sat down. Red said, to me, ‘Why aren’t you in the huddle?’ I said, ‘I don’t need to be in that huddle. I play center. Everybody else is playing center (tonight). I don’t need to be in the huddle to know to stay the hell out of the way.’ His reaction was, ‘OK, nobody else is playing center.’
When we got home from that trip, he put in a play specifically for me. If he didn’t think the play was called enough, he would call it from the bench.
Q: What is your best memory of your coach and friend?
A: The last time we talked (just before he died) and Red warned me, ‘Don’t fall.’ So concise, so meaningful. I’ll always remember that — until the moment I fall.