Skip to main content

Bird-as-most-lovable-Celtic overwhelming favorite over Russell. Why?


The results of my Twitter poll are in on the most beloved Celtic, all-time. Larry Bird ran away with the vote, taking 81.4% of the ballots. Bill Russell came in a distant-second with 10.2% of the vote. Paul Pierce grabbed 6.8%, and John Havlicek finished with 1.7%.

So, why the distance between Larry and Russ? Was it racism? Possibly. That can't be totally excluded. Was it the fact that Big Bill played mostly in the 60's when fewer fans went to games or watched them on TV.? 

I believe that most Celtics fans in-the-know would put Bird and Russell at the top of their Best-Celtic-All-Time list, so why the discrepancy in the vote? 

Although I never personally met Bill, he lived near me in Reading, Massachusetts in the 60's, and without going into detail, some members of the community treated him badly. You have read the stories. Assorted members of the media were no better, sending unwarranted criticism his way. If Russ wasn't particularly affable, he had his reasons.

My personal take is that Russell had a tough facade because he was never loved and appreciated when he led the Celtics to 11 Titles. Was racism involved here. Some - I believe. Just as Bird alleged Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe sarcasticlly regarded him in his rookie year as "The Great White Hope", it is probable that some Celtics-fans-of-light-complexion favor players of that same color (per CelticsBlog's Professor Parquet):

When Bird reported to camp as a rookie, he immediately had to deal with "great white hope" fallout issues from without and within, mainly teammates Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe. The two fading veteran yet established black forwards were skeptical of the pale, slender white forward's game.

Wicks and Rowe even made comments to the effect of "here comes the great white hope" the first day of practice when Bird came onto the court. The former UCLA bookend forwards were near the end of their careers and had become underachieving malcontents.

As Bird succinctly (tellingly) noted in the NBA TV documentary "Bird and Magic: A Courtship of Rivals", Wicks and Rowe did not make it past the first day of practice under ex-Marine drill sergeant coach Bill Fitch, who cut them after their antics.

Celtic forward Cedric Maxwell also admitted that at the time, a lot of black players were biased against caucasian players, openly skeptical that they could play well against top competition since there was a dearth of white stars in the league.
So what are my readers' thoughts? Racism? Russ played too long ago? Bill simply was not lovable? Too small a sample (59 votes)? Let us know.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Sign the Petition! Let's honor Tommy Heinsohn

  No longtime Celtics fan can watch games this year without a somewhat heavy heart. For the last 50 plus years, we have been blessed as a franchise to have Tommy Heinsohn, Mr. Celtic himself, as a part of the organization. Whether it be as a player, coach, or commentator, Tommy has been an instrumental figure for the green, and his presence is missed on every broadcast. Nobody embodied what it meant to be a Celtic more than Tommy, and I know I miss his energy and ferocity every time Scal claims the refs "made the right call" against the Cs. While Tommy obviously belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Celtics, he is often overlooked in his place among the greats of NBA history. Looking back upon his life, one would be hard pressed to find someone with a bigger impact on NBA basketball than Mr. Celtic. For those who are unfamiliar, let's do a quick review. Tommy is one of 2 people to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as both a player and coach (the other being the indomitable Len

We may be glad Danny Ainge rolled the dice on Theis

Frankly, I was not sure if Danny Ainge would ink Daniel Theis to a new deal, but it looks like a good move. Theis is signed for two years at a total of $10 million, with the second year non-guaranteed. With the departure of big men Al Horford and Aron Baynes, rolling the dice on Theis could work very well. In his first season in Boston, Daniel just kept improving. For the pre-All-Star stretch, he averaged 14.5 minutes/Game, 5.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG while shooting 52% on field goals and 30% on treys. Post-All-Star his minutes increased to 18.4 per game, his points to 7.8/game and his boards to 5.3/game. And he shot 68% on field goals and 40% on 3-pointers. Then a meniscus tear shut him down. His minutes and production took a hit last season, in part most likely due to lagging recovery from the injury. Right now he is playing on German's entry in the FIBA World Cup. In a game versus The Czech Rebublic, he scored 17 points, grabbed six rebounds, passed off for three assists and blocked tw

What Jeff Teague can bring to the Celtics offense

Bringing in Jeff Teague as some guard depth this year could end up being a monumental move for this year's Celtics team. Teague is a well respected veteran in the league, and having gone to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2015 with the Atlanta Hawks, knows what it takes to win tough games. Here's a brief look at why I think Jeff will be a great fit with the C's Every Celtics fan loves Marcus Smart , due to everything he brings to the table, from the defensive intensity to scoring outbursts. For all the good things he does, Marcus excels off ball, and can have his effectiveness diminished when he is forced to be a primary ball handler. He is often pigeon-holed into that role with the second unit (or when Kemba is out), and Teague's addition will hopefully allow him to play more off-ball and maximize his abilities.  At the deadline last year, Teague was traded to the Atlanta Hawks to play alongside Trae Young. His usage rate and effectiveness dipped considerably, as he