Post-game Reactions

The 2014 NBA All-Star game was devoid of Celtics for the first time in years, making it mostly an opportunity for Cs fans to watch a collection of massive dunks, highlight reel dribbling and incredible passing from a distance.

But during a break in the action, Bill Russell — who was sitting courtside — was serenaded with an off-key rendition of “Happy Birthday” from Magic Johnson and the New Orleans crowd in honor of his 80th birthday on February 12. Afterwards, nearly every player on both squads filed past to shake his hand.

The attention prompted a report from Craig Sager. Apparently, Russell had some thoughts on the latest trending topic around the NBA: LeBron’s Mount Rushmore. Here’s Russell to LeBron, according to Sager’s sideline report:

“Hey, thank you for leaving me off your Mount Rushmore. I’m glad you did. Basketball is a team game, it’s not for individual honors. I won back-to-back state championships in high school, back-to-back NCAA championships in college, I won an NBA championship my first year in the league, an NBA championship in my last year, and nine in between. That, Mr. James, is etched in stone.”

Video and some thoughts after the jump…

Russell seemingly chastising LeBron for not appreciating that basketball is a team game seems a little bit odd, given LeBron’s generally unselfish playing style, but that’s really neither here nor there. LeBron may be the greatest player in the NBA right now, and someday his name very well might come up on people’s Mount Rushmore of NBA players, but he has a long ways to go before he can begin to challenge Russell both in terms of championships (he probably will never get there) and impact on the game (he almost certainly will never get there, given Russell’s history with the Civil Rights Movement).

Let’s not belabor this point, however. The reason we are posting this is because it’s an incredible quote. I don’t know where Russell’s championships are etched in stone but if they aren’t already, let’s make it happen, stone-etchers.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

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  • Rich

    My interpretation of Russell’s remarks:

    Russell’s championship recitation was a shot directly at Lebron’s insistence that he will one day be remembered as the greatest of all time.

    Russell’s not going to call himself the greatest of all time———-but he’s not going to let Lebron get away with it either.

  • Charlotte

    Humility. Mr. Russell knows…that’s what sets real champions etched in stone v. the “me” guy, apart. You either have it or you don’t & LBJ just doesn’t. Russell does.

    Case in point: who goes around calling himself King James? LOL

    In the big picture, that’s a great character flaw imho.

  • check12check

    I hate to tell baby bron-bron, but he will not deserve to be placed on the Mt. Rushmore of the NBA. I don’t even think he makes after 1990 list (MJ, Duncan, Kobe, Shaq sound good?), and he would never admit it, but Durant is surpassing him as we speak. Great player….I won’t argue that…..but greatest of all time he is not.

    • YouSerious?

      Objectively speaking… Lebron’s stats will be looking far more impressive than Kobe’s when its all said and done. His career averages at the moment are better than Kobe’s, and he has rings (with the potential to win more)

      As for Durant, c’mon. He hasn’t won an MVP yet, much less a championship. Durant is one of my favorite players in the league to watch (Rondo taking the top spot), but he’s only 25, and has much more to prove.

      Russell is criminally underrated by people though.

  • High Rollers

    Ugh. Kobe and I agree on the Mt. Rushmore thing.

  • Joe

    Just saying… My Rushmore isn’t the 4 greatest presidents of all time…

    • Joe

      Like Calvin…. Bet most people didn’t even know he was on Mt Rushmore.

  • hax

    The rushmore thing is very iffy. You have to compare guys who do different things. I’d rather do Top 5 at each position.

    LeBron would not get in over Kobe & Durant, sorry. Both of those guys just destroy LeBron offensively. They also stayed with their teams instead of running off to a all-star team. Even then, Ray needed to save LeBron.

    • YouSerious?

      So Lebron averages more points per game through his career than Kobe, more assists, more rebounds, better shooting percentage, more MVPs…Kobe had one of the best big men of all time on his team and constantly complained once Shaq was gone. He didn’t win rings again until he got help. Also, Durant hasn’t won anything in his career yet, so that’s a bit premature.

      • Douglas Williams

        That is if he retires right now. If he continues to play, I know he will, all of his averages will decline. It is a known fact the older you get the more your skills will start to deteriorate. Kolby has 6 rings, LeBron has 2 and the way I see it, that will be all that he wins if he stays with the Heat.

      • mr_bleed_green

        LeBron didn’t win anything until he got help, whats your point? It just proves Russell’s point, its a team game.

        • YouSerious?

          Holy…the point is that you can’t be bias just because you don’t like Lebron personally or whatever. Lebron’s stats are superior to Kobe’s, he has more MVPs, he’s won championships while being the best player on his team, and he’s been to the Finals 4 times (once with one of the worst teams ever to make a Finals appearance), and won twice. And that’s only so far!

          How hard is it to be objective?

  • bill krause

    I am a huge celtic fan…however, it sounds like Lebron struck a nerve. If basketball is a team game why does Russell say he (I) won. He should have said we won!!!

  • Wendy

    I love everything about Russell’s response. It’s so nice to see someone putting Lebron in his place. Lebron may play unselfishly at times, but he’s very quick to let everyone know how great he is and where he fits in bball history. He should let others say that. Freak of nature athletically he may be, one of the top 4 of all time, he is not

  • Ping

    Durant would destroy LeBron offensively? Did you see what LeBron did last season? 26/8/7 while shooting 56/41/75%. He has had the top PER for each of the last six seasons.

    I know Durant just had a blazing month and is in line for his first MVP, but c’mon. LeBron is dominant in just about every fashion of the game, and no one has even mentioned defense. Sure, leaving Cleveland the way he did was terrible, but let’s not exaggerate. Players want to win, and that wasn’t happening with Big Z and Mo Williams. Shaq left Orlando to win. Paul Pierce almost demanded a trade from Boston. LeBron just won back to back titles (remember that first one before Ray arrived?).

    Let’s not get crazy here.

  • Ping

    For the record, only two other players have ever gone for 25/8/7 while shooting >50 FG% and >40 3P%.

    Michael Jordan in ’88-’89 and Larry Bird in ’86-’87.

    • hax

      take your stats to south beach

  • Ping

    Check that, Jordan only shot 28% from 3. So Larry was the only one to ever match LeBron’s ’12-’13. Fitting, no?

  • Lebron will never be able to be as good offensively as kobe or durant. Probably not even Paul Pierce!

  • jhanny

    ppl are a lil unfair to LBJ

  • Steve

    There isn’t anyone playing who could carry Russell’s jockstrap. He not only made his teammates better while playing and winning ten championships. He was the coach too for the last one. This in a city known for racial intolerance. Today’s players have no idea what they owe him. But the former superstars showed they do.

    • Bron Bron is a big Baby. And is there anyone who thinks he is a day under 30 YRS old.. If so I have some great swamp land to sell you in Florida……The Celtics will be back !!!!

  • Paul

    Frankly James comments was just his youthful exuberance displayed and sadly the media set him up for that. I am glad Bill not only sent James to school but the media..In other words…the sport is bigger and will always be bigger than James, Cut the youthful banter and remember it is just a game.

  • Bayern Munich

    I mean this man is 80 and his words are still sound. Glad to hear and see he is doing well. I don’t know if any of the NBA stars had the hunger for championship like Bill did.

  • Dominick

    I think one thing that people forget when they mention the greatest of all time is what bill russel did for the sport during such a time. He was on of the best defenders of his era, mind you he wasn’t an offensive freak but he didn’t have to be. When your stature says people from driving on you I’ll take that any day. Not taking anything away from MJ, Magic, Kobe, LbJ, Bird, or even Kareem. But Russell played against the most dominant player not named shaquille oneal in Wilt the stilt. There were no 3 point lines or blocks counted in stats. I’m probably going to be shafted and hated by all of basketball America but Bill Russell is the greatest complete player of all time. 11 rings. 1 for his big toe that is worth more than the hair LBJ has left. Top 5 considering era, position, competition etc. Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Kareem “skyhook” Jabar. Notable exemptions. Larry legend, Isaiah Thomas, Wilt the stilt, oscar Robertson, shaquille, and the big fundamentals Tim Duncan. Sorry Kobe sorry LBJ

  • DC

    Hey, LeBron. Who do you think the NBA Finals MVP trophy is named after? Here’s a hint…not anybody on your Mount Rushmore.

  • LetsBeHonest

    Bill Russell would get his ass thrashed if he played now. I respect him for his time as most Cs were around his height but he used to get blazed by Wilt Chamberlein. Russell was a product of being a good system player, not a great Center that can carry a team. Sorry, but it’s the truth.

  • LeBron, your stats are not a PIMPLE on Bill’s ASS!! And you on mount-rushmore ahead of Bill’s?Has your ego got that big already? And as far as “mountrushmore goes, you better with “BOOT-HILL” Some one needs to teach LeBron how to spell “team” & look it up in the dictionary & make sure that the word does not start with a “M”.

  • hax

    Check out this highlight reel of Bill!
    He even does a LeBron ‘run down block’ in that video.

    His athleticism and skillset were far better than Wilt. He could pass, score, block with the best of them.

  • steven

    there are only two spots on bb mt rushmore open. first is Mr. Russel, 11 in 13, dominated and changed the game.only person to win NCAA, Olympic Gold and NBA title in one year. spot two goes to Oscar Robinson, averaged a triple double for a season. When Labron does that, he can claim to deserving of a spot on the mountain. There are at least 25 other deserving players for those two spots, Jerry West, MJ, Magic, Bird,Kareem, Wilt, just to mention a few

  • jpbl1976

    You just know that Pierce and KG will be reminding Lebron quite a bit of what Mr. Russell said if they meet in the playoffs.

  • Dominick

    I still got my money on Chris Dudley being enshrined on MY Rushmore along with Coach Eddie, Bill Murray, and Lola Bunny