Shaquille O’Neal is one of many superstars who shared the learnings he soaked in from the great Bill Russell.
Almost a week back, the entire basketball fraternity was in grief when Bill Russell peacefully passed away at the age of 88. Shaquille O’Neal was among the many NBA legends who paid tribute to the former Boston Celtics legend.
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) July 31, 2022
Accomplished players of the 1950s & 1960s era are often criticized for playing against “plumbers and lawyers”. However, things were much more difficult for Mr. Russell, who was among the first decorated black megastars.
Playing through all the racism and injustice, Bill was able to win 11 championships, while paving the way for future athletes of various colored skin.
Over the course of his career, and even post-retirement, the 5-time MVP has imparted some valuable life lessons to several players in the association. Shaq was the most recent one to reveal the teachings of the former 12-time All-Star.
“Conversations with Bill Russell taught me to be mentally strong”: Shaquille O’Neal
During a recent interview with “USA Today”, the Lakers legend lauded Bill for the great individual he was. The 4-time champ also disclosed the learnings he soaked from the icon. O’Neal revealed:
“I grew up knowing Bill Russell was a great man. But I didn’t know until I talked to him how great. He couldn’t stay in the same hotels as his (white) teammates, people would write him harsh words. Back then, he never made the kind of money I make, but never complained. These conversations taught me to be mentally strong, never to complain and to not be a cry baby with everything at my disposal.”
In the same interview, Shaq spoke about his promise of buying a few of Bill’s championships rings, which he never managed to acquire. Speaking about the same, the 7-footer said:
“I didn’t want to go through the auction process. I wanted to find out who was in charge and make an offer you can’t refuse and buy everything. But they kept making me go through this auction process and by the time the (auction catalog) came, and I picked my item numbers it was a day too late. Boy, was I (angry).”
Bill Russell will always be remembered as a legend who managed to make a tremendous impact on the hardwood, as well as off the court. Definitely, the Celtics icon’s legacy will always be cherished.