Bill Russell retired 53 years ago. Thus, most of you reading this have only seen Russell play on grainy film clips, probably in black-and-white, that don’t come close to capturing his brilliance. But since I’m fortunate (and old enough) to have seen basketball’s greatest leader and winner play many times in person, let me share some impressions from that experience.
When watching Russell, it quickly became clear that he was not just the greatest defender ever, but the best help defender of all time. He excelled at blocking shooters who had beaten their man. Russell protected the paint so well that it was a mystery why anyone attempted to penetrate against the Boston defense.