I’ve been reading a stack of old Sports Illustrated issues from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, and the depth and variety of coverage was quite impressive. One of the biggest cover stories from my new collection is from the Aug. 4, 1969, issue, with Boston Celtics great Bill Russell on the cover.
The articles appears on Pages 18-19 of the 66-page issue under the headline “I’M NOT INVOLVED ANYMORE.”
The story begins this way: “Since 1943, when I first saw a basketball, I’ve played approximately 3,000 game, organized and otherwise. I think that’s enough.”
My favorite part of the story is the honesty and clear language he uses to describe the game.
“Let’s talk about statistics,” Russell says. “The important statistics in basketball are supposed to be points scored, rebounds and assists. But nobody keeps statistics on other important things—the good fake you make that helps your teammate score; the bad pass you force the other team to make; the good long pass you make that sets up another pass that sets up another pass that leads to a score; the way you recognize when one of your teammates has a hot hand that night and you give up your own shot so he can take it. All of those things. Those were some of the things we excelled in that you won’t find in the statistics. There was only one statistic that was important to us—won and lost.”
After winning 11 NBA championship in his 13 seasons, including the final two when he was Boston’s player-coach, Russell demonstrated with brilliant clarity that things that don’t show up in the box score are as important — maybe even more important — than the “real” stats.
Read the full story here: ‘I’M NOT INVOLVED ANYMORE’ – Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com