Blog Entry

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

Posted on: November 10, 2011 3:19 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 4:05 pm
NEW YORK – Hall of Famer Bill Russell said a solution to the NBA lockout is being jeopardized by hard-liners on both sides, and urged the parties to put aside their differences and reach a compromise “they can live with.”

“As a very interested bystander, I just hope they get a deal,” Russell told in a phone interview. “And it will not come from the hard-liners on either side. I think they all know that. I have this theory that hard-liners are like true believers. And true believers think that any compromise is a retreat. And moving forward, that doesn’t cut it.”

Russell’s words carry weight – and not just because he is the most decorated champion in NBA history. The former Celtics’ star was among a group of 20 All-Stars who threatened to boycott the 1964 All-Star Game in Boston unless the NBA recognized the newly formed players’ union.

“Basically I was one of those guys that helped get the players’ association started,” Russell said. “And they've done wonderful things. I knew David Stern before he was commissioner, when he was associate attorney for the NBA. And if I remember correctly, he said, ‘I do not consider the players' association my adversaries. They're my business partners.’

“That's where, a lot of the things that David has done -- and I’ve known him up close -- have been beneficial for both sides,” Russell said.

Russell, 77, winner of 11 NBA titles, wanted to speak with after he learned of union attorney Jeffrey Kessler’s comments in which he referred to NBA players being treated like “plantation workers.” Kessler, who made the comments to the Washington Post Monday night, apologized to several outlets Wednesday.

“I think that's an invalid accusation,” Russell said. “I think the whole deal is not about black and white. It's about money, OK? I don’t see any signs of being greedy. It's a typical negotiation and that's all it is. And there are a couple of reasons it's difficult, because there's hard-liners on both sides.

“But to me, the name-calling or vilifying the other side is a non-issue,” Russell said. “All that is is a distraction -- a distraction from the task at hand, which is reaching an agreement that neither side will probably be completely happy with. But that's the art of compromise.”

Russell said both sides “have their points,” but he views the key stumbling blocks as owners as trying to “protect themselves from the owners” and a battle between “the small-market teams and the big-market teams.”

“The players want their fair share of the business and the small-market owners don't want to keep losing money,” Russell said.

Russell said he hasn’t kept up with the details of the negotiation, but cautioned both sides that there’s “more to the agreement than just money.”

“I told Billy Hunter a few years ago: Bargain as hard as you can and make a deal,’” Russell said. “I really like and respect David Stern, and I really like and respect Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher. My whole life I've had a love affair with the NBA, and we've had some tough negotiations over the years. But I don’t think we ever vilified the other side. We just had tough negotiations.”

I thanked Russell for his input, wished him well, and told him I hoped to see him soon – at a basketball game.

“I'd like to see a basketball game right now,” he said.

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: November 11, 2011 5:50 pm

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

 In this case he admits he does not know the details – even as reported often. So my question is why is Bill Russell spouting off about hardliners? Why is Berger quoting Russell who is bound to side with players and does not know the details of what he is talking about?

You don't even know the details, even as often as they are reported.  There is always more behind the door than what gets leaked out.

He also knows enough of whats going on to give sound advice for the idiots in both camps to back off before they do irreprable harm to the league.  He isn't siding with either side and he is laying blame at factions within both sides.

Also, Bill Russel asked to speak with CBS to clear some air and when a legendary player does that, you don't decline his request.

Since: Aug 31, 2006
Posted on: November 11, 2011 2:29 pm

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

It's you're moron.

Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: November 11, 2011 11:30 am

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

Your and Idiot, he's probably saving your league.

Since: Jan 5, 2007
Posted on: November 11, 2011 9:59 am

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

One of the greats of all time will destroy the NBA.  Great job MJ.

Since: Feb 15, 2008
Posted on: November 11, 2011 5:43 am

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

Hard-line owners are really jeopardizing themselves in the end. Players know who the hard-liners are and do you think any of the top tier talent will ever sign with any of those owners?  Dan Gilbert may be an a-hole but he's not stupid. Why do you think that now with the possibilty of a deal being made, he's  trying to shed the hard-liner label ?

Since: Oct 16, 2011
Posted on: November 11, 2011 3:37 am

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

"Bill didn't fare well as a coach"? Other than being the first black coach to win a championship in one of the four major sports?

Since: Nov 10, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 11:18 pm

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

All these folks would be better off not starting the season till this time or year or later, lockout or no....

Since: Sep 22, 2009
Posted on: November 10, 2011 10:10 pm

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

Hey dw me!  You are very misguided in so many ways. Must suck.

Since: Nov 3, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 7:56 pm

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

I am sick of you dumb haters on the NBA. Sports are corrupted every which way you turn. Baseball with its steroid usage of marque players, college football with so many issues I don't know where to start but just ask Penn State the all mighty university that everyone loves.  Everybody wants to hate on basketball now because people don't like to see a certain group of players makes millions. Get over it losers, if your only talent is to degrade others than you are the real loser. That is why unemployment is what it is because owners of big businesses have eliminated jobs to sustain wealth for themselves.  It is the american way to depress others to sustain your own.

Since: Nov 3, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 7:45 pm

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA


The media portray this as the players versus the owners but it is really about the star players versus low/mid tier players and the big market owners versus the small market owners. You have too many moving pieces to fix and it can't be done in the manner they are going about it now. This needs to go to court or a strategic planner who can divise a deal where it is in the best interest for all scenarios.

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