3 Wonderful Bill Russell Moments (That Weren’t on a Basketball Court)

NBA legend Bill Russell died yesterday. Instantly, the tributes came pouring in.

And for good reason. Russell was among the best players to step on NBA courts, and he was a pioneer for just about every player that’s come after him.

Playing from 1956 to 1969, Russell dealt with tremendous amounts of racism, including from his own fans in Boston.

Yet he continued to be an activist and played some very good basketball along the way. He won a whopping 11 titles in those 13 seasons while earning five MVPs and 12 All-Star appearances.

A couple of years ago, Russell wrote an article for SLAM Magazine about how he’s fought racism his entire life.

I highly recommend reading the piece. It’s poignant and shines a light on how things that were issues 50 to 60 years ago are still common today. And that needs to change.

On a lighter note, Russell also had a goofy sense of humor. Here are a few off-the-court moments to showcase that.

Bill Russell Lies About His Age to Dwight Howard

Back when he was with the Orlando Magic, Dwight Howard was among the silliest players in the NBA.

He’s still silly today, we just don’t see it as much because he’s not a superstar.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that Russell fools his fellow big man by telling him how old he turned during his recent birthday, only he adds a few decades to the number.

Look at the giddiness of his laugh! That’s pure joy.

Bill Russell Flips Off Vince Carter, and Vlade Divac Loves It

During NBA Summer League in 2018, Bill Russell was chilling courtside at the media table. Someone alerted Russell to Vince Carter, who was excitedly pointing at him from the stands.

Russell responded with the most casual flip of the bird, and Carter loved it.

Perhaps not as much as Vlade Divac, though. Divac literally leaves his chair so he can spin in a circle and laugh.

Actually, that sounds like a great activity. I’m going to do that right now.

Bill Russell and Tim Duncan Just Chattin’

Tim Duncan is another all-time great despite garnering a reputation for being “boring” during his playing days.

But ain’t nobody better at shooting jumpers that bounce off the backboard before dropping through the net.

Timmy D and Bill Russell sat down for a conversation in 2009, shortly after the NBA named the Finals MVP Award after Russell.

Russell shares a story of Jackie Robinson’s wife asking Russell to be a pallbearer at her husband’s wedding. It’s a really touching moment and Duncan sits in awe as he hears it. Just like any of us would in the same situation.

This video isn’t really goofy (though Duncan does make a fun joke), but I thought it was a cool moment between two players who respect the heck out of each other.