Bill Russell Was Tough but Not Nearly as Tough as Getting His Autograph

Bill Russell was one of the toughest players in NBA history, but he wasn’t nearly as tough as getting his autograph.

Getting your favorite athlete’s signature is always a fun experience. But, it can be tough to get the autograph of some athletes. Bill Russell was one such player. He was tough but not nearly as tough as getting his autograph.

Bill Russell was a difficult person in general. He was difficult to stop, beat, and defeat, and he was as tough as nails. The only thing more difficult than getting an autograph from the former Boston Celtics big was attempting to acquire one during his playing days. Russell’s autograph was not obtained by any of his colleagues, including Tom “Satch” Sanders.

As a coach, Bill Russell is currently a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

As a player, Russell has already been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Russell was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player in 1975 after winning 11 championships with the Celtics. As a coach, he is a member of the Class of 2021. When Russell succeeded Red Auerbach as the NBA’s first Black coach in 1966, he made history as the league’s first Black coach.

Russell led the Celtics to two titles in three seasons as their coach. In the regular season, he had a 162-83 record in Boston. In the playoffs, he went 28-18.

Russell coached the Seattle SuperSonics for the following four years. He finished the regular season with a 162-166 record and went 6-9 in the playoffs. He coached the Sacramento Kings for one more season, ending with a 17-41 record.

Russell joins former Celtics colleague Tommy Heinsohn as the only players and coaches to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

When it came to autograph demands, Bill Russell was very frugal.


Bill-Russell-HOF-1-1024x683 On April 13, 2016, in Boston, Massachusetts, Bill Russell is honored at halftime of a game between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat at TD Garden. | Getty Images/Mike Lawrie

Getting a Russell signature was as difficult as getting a rebound away from him during his playing days. Russell, who led the league in rebounding five times and averaged 22.5 rebounds per game in his career, was in high demand among fans. Many people approached him for autographs, but they were usually disappointed.

Russell stated in a 2013 Christian Science Monitor story, “I chose to quit signing autographs in the midst of my playing career.” “Part of my attitude toward autographs stems from the belief that I’d rather meet someone who approaches me respectfully, talk to them for a minute, and look them in the eye than participate in the fleeting ritual of signing something, never looking at the person I’m signing something for, never getting to know them, and then moving on.”

In a 1963 Sports Illustrated story, Russell said that writing his name for others was a waste of time. He claimed he seldom signed autographs before fully shutting down signature seekers, and that most of the time it was simply to get rid of the people who were asking.

“I believe it’s a waste if someone asks for an autograph, but I do sign them occasionally,” he added. “I simply feel like being kind sometimes, or it gets rid of them.” Personally, I am unconcerned about what others think of me. I don’t believe I think any differently than anybody else, but I do believe I behave differently.”

During his playing days, Russell would not even sign for teammates.

When Russell was a member of the Celtics, one of his teammates, Sanders, asked him for his autograph. Sanders was a collector who hoped to get an autograph from every player he had ever worked with. Sanders, on the other hand, attempted to give it a try.

According to a 2014 Sports Illustrated story, Russell said, “You, Satch, of all people, know how I feel.”

Sanders replied, “Dammit, I’m your teammate, Russ.” Russell never signed a contract.

Russell was disturbed by Sanders’ dissatisfaction, according to John Thompson, a former Georgetown coach and Russell’s backup with the Celtics for a number of years.

In a 2014 Sports Illustrated article, Thompson stated, “It upset him.” “However, he valued doing things his way, on his own terms. That’s Bill for you. He was determined to stick to his guns, no matter how much it hurt.”

Russell became a little more relaxed over time after he realized how much money was involved. He did several autograph signings, but getting a Russell signature was as tough as stopping him during his playing days.

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Bill Russell is considered to be one of the toughest players in NBA history. However, his record in the finals was not nearly as tough as getting his autograph. Reference: bill russell finals record.

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