Author Topic: How many living athletes are in Bill Russell's class?  (Read 14665 times)

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Re: How many living athletes are in Bill Russell's class?
« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2022, 05:08:48 PM »

Offline blink

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Quick thoughts:

- Not on this blog, probably, but Kareem.

-Serena Williams has put a lot of money into charity but isn't visibly associated with those causes, perhaps. But she's certainly got the sport accomplishments on lock.

-Marcus Rashford could get there in a few decades - although hopefully he outlives me.


I want to be spicy and say that the reason there wouldn't be 'universal respect' in American Sports is because none of the other shortlisted folks played for the Celtics, though.  :laugh:

I have a hard time rating sports outside of the "big four", just because I don't know how the general public views them.  But, just in terms of sports accomplishments and being universally admired athletically / seen as "legends", you've got:

Kareem
Jordan
Magic
Bird
Lebron

Willie Mays
Sandy Koufax

Tom Brady
Joe Montana

Bobby Orr
Wayne Gretzky

Jack Nicklaus
Tiger Woods

Serena Williams
Martina Navratilova

I think when you add "great humanitarian" to the list, it's extraordinarily small.  Kareem, for sure.

I think you could easily add Billie Jean King to the tennis list.  She has done a lot over the decades since she stopped playing with various charities and public service.

Re: How many living athletes are in Bill Russell's class?
« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2022, 07:18:23 PM »

Offline gouki88

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Kareem and Navratilova spring to mind immediately.

'23 Historical Draft: Orlando Magic.

PG: Terry Porter (90-91) / Steve Francis (00-01)
SG: Joe Dumars (92-93) / Jeff Hornacek (91-92) / Jerry Stackhouse (00-01)
SF: Brandon Roy (08-09) / Walter Davis (78-79)
PF: Terry Cummings (84-85) / Paul Millsap (15-16)
C: Chris Webber (00-01) / Ralph Sampson (83-84) / Andrew Bogut (09-10)

Re: How many living athletes are in Bill Russell's class?
« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2022, 10:42:21 PM »

Offline hwangjini_1

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Re: How many living athletes are in Bill Russell's class?
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2022, 07:13:29 AM »

Online Surferdad

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Kareem.  I don't see other suggestions as viable and I can't think of anyone else.

I refuse to project ahead 50 years as any of these guys could commit a transgression that knocks them out of consideration. Also, that's not what the OP asked.

Re: How many living athletes are in Bill Russell's class?
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2022, 07:24:39 AM »

Offline Neurotic Guy

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Billie Jean King.

Re: How many living athletes are in Bill Russell's class?
« Reply #20 on: August 02, 2022, 08:01:10 AM »

Offline boscel33

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Kareem and Navratilova spring to mind immediately.

Can't believe I'm saying this, but can LeBron be far off the list.  We know what he has done on the court, but look at what his LeBron James Family Foundation.  Now, much of this work has centered in the Akron area, but that's a heck of a lot better than many!
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Re: How many living athletes are in Bill Russell's class?
« Reply #21 on: August 02, 2022, 09:13:50 AM »

Offline LatterDayCelticsfan

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On court winningness, I suggest Serena Williams
Banner 18 please 😍

Re: How many living athletes are in Bill Russell's class?
« Reply #22 on: August 02, 2022, 09:21:14 AM »

Offline Goldstar88

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Quoting Nick from the now locked Ime thread:
Quote
At some point you have to blame the performance on the court on the players on the court. Every loss is not the coach's fault and every win isn't because of the players.

Re: How many living athletes are in Bill Russell's class?
« Reply #23 on: August 02, 2022, 09:54:59 AM »

Offline Goldstar88

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On court winningness, I suggest Serena Williams

Serena at her peak was probably the most dominant female Tennis player of all time, but her on court behavior has been despicable on multiple occasions, so I have a really hard time putting her on a list with Bill Russell. For example, telling a lines judge that she was going to “Shove a tennis ball down her F’ing throat” after being called for a foot fault (which was the correct call)and then the meltdown at the US open in 2018 when she was warned for coaching and then went on a tirade until the end of the match. Completely stole the moment from Naomi who ended up winning. Lost a ton of respect for her after that.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gNwc7o_0Sgg
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uiBrForlj-k

« Last Edit: August 02, 2022, 10:10:18 AM by Goldstar88 »
Quoting Nick from the now locked Ime thread:
Quote
At some point you have to blame the performance on the court on the players on the court. Every loss is not the coach's fault and every win isn't because of the players.

Re: How many living athletes are in Bill Russell's class?
« Reply #24 on: August 02, 2022, 11:50:47 AM »

Offline Celtics4ever

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Zero, no one has ever dominated a sport like he did.

Re: How many living athletes are in Bill Russell's class?
« Reply #25 on: August 02, 2022, 12:18:52 PM »

Offline Vermont Green

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I think what separates or differentiates Bill Russell from many of these other names mentioned is the level of racial bias that he was subjected to, particularly at the beginning of his NBA career.  Things changed a lot between 1957 (the start of his NBA career) and 1969 when he retired but I think due to his timing and some of the places that the NBA took him to, he was really subjected to a lot of racial bias that at least the more contemporary athletes were not.  Kareem for example entered the league in 1969.  I am sure that he faced his share even at that time but nothing compared to the state of things when Bill Russell was playing.

If this question is just about on court performance, there are certainly athletes from basketball and other sports that are in Bill Russell's class.  You could probably come up with 5-10 just in basketball.  It gets harder if you are trying to compare Bobby Orr or a tennis player or whatever.  But to me, if you only look at the basketball aspect, you are missing the key thing that really separated Bill Russell from most others.

Re: How many living athletes are in Bill Russell's class?
« Reply #26 on: August 02, 2022, 06:37:58 PM »

Offline gouki88

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Kareem and Navratilova spring to mind immediately.

Can't believe I'm saying this, but can LeBron be far off the list.  We know what he has done on the court, but look at what his LeBron James Family Foundation.  Now, much of this work has centered in the Akron area, but that's a heck of a lot better than many!
His off-court work has certainly been very impressive, don't get me wrong.

But I think Kareem and his involvement in the civil rights movement, and Navratilova's involvement in gay rights (despite her recent JK Rowling-ness) were more significant.

LeBron is still in his 30s though. Plenty of time to make significant change.
'23 Historical Draft: Orlando Magic.

PG: Terry Porter (90-91) / Steve Francis (00-01)
SG: Joe Dumars (92-93) / Jeff Hornacek (91-92) / Jerry Stackhouse (00-01)
SF: Brandon Roy (08-09) / Walter Davis (78-79)
PF: Terry Cummings (84-85) / Paul Millsap (15-16)
C: Chris Webber (00-01) / Ralph Sampson (83-84) / Andrew Bogut (09-10)

Re: How many living athletes are in Bill Russell's class?
« Reply #27 on: August 02, 2022, 07:04:57 PM »

Offline celticsclay

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Kareem and Navratilova spring to mind immediately.

Can't believe I'm saying this, but can LeBron be far off the list.  We know what he has done on the court, but look at what his LeBron James Family Foundation.  Now, much of this work has centered in the Akron area, but that's a heck of a lot better than many!
His off-court work has certainly been very impressive, don't get me wrong.

But I think Kareem and his involvement in the civil rights movement, and Navratilova's involvement in gay rights (despite her recent JK Rowling-ness) were more significant.

LeBron is still in his 30s though. Plenty of time to make significant change.

Believe it or not I was really start to come around Lebron off the court about three years ago. He has had two pretty big misteps  the last few years with his comments calling Morey Ill informed and also in really fanning the flames of racial tension with his “your next” for a cop that may Have not even done anything wrong. If people think Lebron is in the same world as kareem I encourage you to read this and his other pieces

https://kareem.substack.com/p/the-way-china-is-treating-us-were

There is a pretty huge difference than Lebron reading the first page of a book for camera.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2022, 07:42:33 PM by celticsclay »

Re: How many living athletes are in Bill Russell's class?
« Reply #28 on: August 02, 2022, 07:11:09 PM »

Offline nickagneta

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Megan Rapinoe....eventually

Re: How many living athletes are in Bill Russell's class?
« Reply #29 on: August 02, 2022, 07:51:37 PM »

Offline nyceltsfan

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Roberto Clemente was a fantastic baseball player and literally died in a plane crash trying to bring aid to Nicaragua.  He deserves to be on this list.

EDIT - I just realized we are only looking at living athletes.