|Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 10
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"OBSERVE AND INNOVATE" (BILL RUSSELL PART 6)
John Wooden Video Clip (78 sec.): Coach Wooden describes his father. (Inspirational standards to live up to.)
In Bill Russell's 13 years in the NBA (1956-69) his Boston Celtics won 11 championships. For the last two championships (1968 and 1969) he was the player-coach. Prior to the Celtics, Russell attended the University of San Francisco which he led to back-to-back National Championships (1955 & 1956).
At USF Russell revolutionized basketball with his innovation of blocking shots. In 1953 the accepted wisdom of the day on general defensive strategy was: "A good defensive player never leaves his feet."
Russell had taught himself how to visualize and mirror opponents and jump at just the right time to block their shot. As a sophomore this habit was viewed as a lack of discipline, and he did not get to play. As a Junior, and Senior, the Coach was forced to play him as he was the only center on the team.
He often blocked fifteen or more shots in a game, leading USF to two National Championships. He was the only player in college basketball blocking shots and his coach viewed the blocked shot as improper, but tolerated it as they won 57 of 58 games.
In his book, Russell Rules, which he wrote with David Falkner, Coach Russell describes how he taught himself to visualize opponents:
"When I was a child, soon after my family had moved from Louisiana to West Oakland, California, my mother decided that I had to have a library card. I spent my time poring over art books, particularly over reproductions of the work of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci and the other Renaissance painters. I remember that I'd sit up at a table near the stacks, opening the books, staring at one plate after another.
I wouldn't bring books home from the library just because I was curious to see if I could draw out what I had memorized. I'd sit at home and try to copy on paper what was in my brain."
On the playgrounds of Oakland, Russell used his self-taught skill of visualization to anticipate the opponent and invented what is now known as "the blocked shot". At the time, college basketball coaches thought it was improper. Russell thought it was an innovation. It revolutionized basketball.
Do you just observe and imitate, or do you observe and innovate?
Yours in Coaching,
The Little Old Man
The little old man with the curve in his back
Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959)
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