NBA legend says he would’ve loved to play with both Duncan, Lebron James


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Legendary player, NBA champion Bill Russell admitted that he would’ve loved to play on the same team with Tim Duncan and Lebron James.

“I would have liked to have played with the three guys in San Antonio – Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili – because they put the most pressure on the defense and if you could play at all, it would be easy and fun to play with them,” Russell told NBA’s official website. “The same thing is true of LeBron and Dwyane Wade. Both guys are really, really good.”

With regards to Wade and James, Russell said both players are not just good scorers.

“They also excel as defenders and passers. They both have different starting points, which makes it difficult to guard them. See, each player has a favorite spot where he starts, not where he finishes but where he starts. Both of these players have multiple places where they can start, which makes it very challenging defensively,” Russell explained.

Boston Celtics legend went on to say that a lot of people call the players mentioned above “natural athletes”, but he disagrees.

“There’s no such thing. I like to think that they simply know what they’re doing, which makes them great,” Russell said.

With regards to Tim Duncan, Russell admitted that he’s a big fan.

“He’s playing at a high level at an age where a lot of people are not playing. He has successfully been able to intelligently change his game to fit his body this year. But as far as I’m concerned, he’s a center, not a forward. Most of his work is done in the post. I wouldn’t list him as a forward or as a guard. I would list him as a great player. Period,” Russell said.

He went on to add that one of the attributes that makes Duncan great is his integrity.

“When he said after the Spurs eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder that they were going to win this time against the Heat, he was saying what he believes. He wasn’t sending a message to Miami or his teammates. You have to take in consideration, maybe he sees something that no one else has seen,” Russell said.

Further speaking about the 2014 NBA finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat, Russell said while the game itself has changed a lot from his playing days, he still has “great admiration for today’s players, particularly those playing in this series.”

“Miami is going for three consecutive NBA championships, trying to become only the fourth franchise in NBA history to achieve that milestone. The Spurs are going for their fifth title in 15 years. Both franchises are being celebrated for their consistency over the years and this Finals rematch is drawing great anticipation,” he said.

“In the NBA Finals, there’s pressure and you always see how players react to the pressure. For some guys, it makes them a step slower while for other guys, it makes them a step faster. I like to watch to see how teams react to the pressure because for the really great players, there isn’t any pressure, you just go out and play,” he added.

He underscored that in the playoffs and especially The Finals, one of the big advantages is to play the same team over and over with no other team in between. This way, a team can make intelligent adjustments.

“Intelligent adjustments. Ultimately, this NBA championship will come down to intelligent adjustments,” Russell said, adding that he wouldn’t be surprised if “this series went the distance like last year.”

Russell played center from 1956 to 1969, also serving as player-coach for three seasons. He was a five-time MVP, 11-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star in his 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics.

Russell was also a pioneer for African-American professional athletes, serving as a key voice and figure during the civil rights era. He played in 963 NBA games and holds career averages of 15.1 ppg and 22.5 rpg and 4.3 apg in 42.3 minutes of playing time.

He never averaged below 18.6 rebounds per game in his career, and did not average double figures in scoring in only his last season as a pro. He also led the NBA in rebounds per game five times in his career. Russell was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975.

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