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 CBSSports.com 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 CBSSports.com 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.
Comments

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: November 10, 2011 7:42 pm
 

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

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.” Bill Russell is a model of the perfect basketball player. I admire Bill greatly. But Bill did not fare well as a coach. He has not been in a front office executive position. 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? There must be some folks who are naturally – you know – paying attention that could render an opinion? Both sides have settled for the moment on the money. They are working on issues of competitiveness. The owners want 30 teams to compete. The players want 9 teams to compete (winners in the last 30 years). Russell had the ultimate dynasty in Boston. He was surrounded his whole career by Hall of Fame players. There was no league in those days. Boston played Philadelphia every year in the East. LA played whoever in the West. And LA beat Boston or Boston beat LA for the championship. Is that what we want again? How boring. Pay thousands of dollars each for seats to the games. Pay hundreds more each to see a playoff game. But only a few teams get to actually compete? Shame on the players for being anti-competitive. Get it done players. Time is a’wasting.



Since: Nov 10, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 7:36 pm
 

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

Well maybe your brain can only process one issue at a time, but some of us are a little more evoled!



Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: November 10, 2011 7:28 pm
 

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

Well said Bill. You nailed it. The hard liners are killing this.

The small market teams need a system that does not allow all the superstars to play for 6 teams and a system where they stop losing money. The average player gets that. The superstars don't want to see it because it means some of them will end up in small markets. Still lots to learn from the NHL model.



Since: Mar 16, 2008
Posted on: November 10, 2011 7:23 pm
 

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

At Moneybags213,
They asked him a question and he responded.  Did you take a break from rescuing orphans when you posted? 



Since: May 2, 2010
Posted on: November 10, 2011 7:22 pm
 

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

I hope whatever NBA fans are left, boycott ticket prices when the league fires back up.



Since: Sep 14, 2006
Posted on: November 10, 2011 7:13 pm
 

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

You bet, send Bill to talk to our Congressmen



Since: Oct 6, 2008
Posted on: November 10, 2011 7:04 pm
 

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

  I haven't had to suffer through the highlights of a bunch of tall cry babies crying when someone touches their hand.....woohoo! I hope the league goes away for ever.



Since: Feb 25, 2008
Posted on: November 10, 2011 7:01 pm
 

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

I would like to see the NBA players of old do a charity game during this lockout, even though it wont be great but alittle entertaining and maybe a slap in the face of some of the current NBAs and owners. Come on who wouldnt want to see MJ, bird, magic, reggie, ewing,pippen, thomas, the dream, and the admiral. i think it would be good for hte fans to have the true ballers we grew up with so us some decent basketball for once.



Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: November 10, 2011 6:56 pm
 

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

Hey Bill Russell....some terrible news just came out about Penn State....so sorry if most of America can care less about the NBA when we are finding out about sodomy at Penn State

Great timing Bill...any other major announcements you want to make to the public that you think are important?



Since: Jul 17, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 6:53 pm
 

Bill Russell: Hard-liners jeopardizing NBA

Yes. a serious black-eye.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com