Kobe Bryant had an extraordinary relationship with Celtics Legend Bill Russell, who held ‘The Black Mamba’ with great respect in his mind.
Russell was one of the pioneers of the NBA, winning an incredible 11 titles with the Boston Celtics establishing himself as one of the greats of the league.
Kobe took a lot of lessons away from Bill Russell, specifically about how to play as a team-first person as Russell’s titles didn’t come off him being a one-man wrecking crew but rather playing the perfect role he needed to make the Celtics one of the most dominant teams in the league.
Bill Russell wearing purple and gold in honor of Kobe Bryant 🍀 pic.twitter.com/PiI2GloYn0
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 23, 2020
Kobe Bryant And Bill Russell Had An Incredible Moment In The 2008 NBA All Star Game
Kobe once spoke about the way Bill Russell impacted his career. He said, speaking about Bill Russell:
“Tactically speaking, he said, ‘when I played, I could score the ball, I could handle the ball, I could pass the ball, but it was really important, in order for us to win, I had to look at my teammates and say ok, there’s other players here that do that better.”
“Therefore, I must allow them to do that. And what I do best is defend and rebound, so I’m gonna completely focus on that, let [Bob] Cousy handle the ball, let Sam [Jones] be the shooter, [John] Havlicek be the shooter.’ I thought that was a very insightful thing that I used when I was able to win those two championships post-Shaq.”
The two also had one of the most heartwarming moments in NBA history when Bill Russell walked up to Kobe in the 2008 NBA All Star game and said ‘I couldn’t be more proud of you than if you were my own son.’
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) May 13, 2021
The 2007-08 season was incredible for Kobe as he was named to the All Star game after averaging 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game.