My father and Bill Russell were …
My father and Bill Russell have been friends since 1955, the year Russell came into the league.
Bill Russell meant what to your father?
My father used to tell me that Bill Russell was a good dude. Every time they saw each other, it was nothing but love and Bill Russell loves my father. He showed him the do’s and don’ts in basketball when he got to the league. When my father went to Boston, Bill Russell was responsible for him, and when Bill Russell came to Syracuse, my father was responsible for him.
What did Bill Russell and your father do for basketball and Black people?
My father and Bill Russell opened doors for today’s Black coaches in the NBA. Bill Russell was the first player-coach, but my father was the first bench coach in the NBA and that was a bond that can never be broken. I think the Black players coming behind my father and Bill Russell gave them a lot of respect because of how hard it was getting there in how to conduct yourself on and off the court. Bill Russell used to tell my father how hard it was playing for Boston, and my father would tell me about Russell. Can you imagine being the only Black in the arena? The kind of things you heard?
Bill Russell used to tell my dad [that] he did not like the city of Boston, but liked the Celtics. I think the city of Boston saw Bill Russell as a n—- who could play basketball.
When they broke into Bill Russell’s house, tore everything up and defecated in his bed, the first person he called was my dad. My dad told him the thing to do is take it out on the White boys who he was playing against and make them pay on the court. That’s what my dad used to do.