NBA legend Bill Russell won 11 championships. That’s the most of anyone ever. It’s nearly double Michael Jordan’s ring count and almost triple LeBron’s. And Russell was not some lucky role player who happened to be on 11 great teams at the right time: Russell is regarded as one of the top 10 players of all time.
He won NBA MVP five times. The NBA named the Finals MVP award after Bill Russell, which makes sense as he is indeed the greatest winner in the history of the game.
Bill Russell played in the NBA from 1956-1969, and played his entire career in Boston. This was not exactly the time or place for a Black man to be treated equally, even one as clearly great as Bill Russell. As a result, Bill Russell was/is not regarded as the most gregarious guy around.
Bill Russell was famous for getting so worked up before games that he would vomit in the locker room before every game. He dominated in college before he did the same in the pros, and one particular situation shaped his future legacy.
“At that time, it was never acceptable that a Black player was the best,” Russell explained in an interview with Achievement.org. “My junior year in college, I had what I thought was one of the best college seasons ever. We won 28 out of 29 games. We won the National Championship. I was the MVP at the Final Four. I was first-team All American … averaged over 20 points and over 20 rebounds, and I was the only guy in college blocking shots. So after the season was over, they had a Northern California banquet, and they picked another center as Player of the Year in Northern California.”
“So I made a conscious decision,” Russell continued “What I’ll do is I will try my very best to win every game. So when my career is finished it will be a historical fact I won these games, these championships, and there’s no one’s opinion how good I am or how good other guys are or comparing things. And so as I chronicle my career playing basketball, I played organized basketball for 21 years, and I was on 18 championship teams. So that’s what my standard is: playing a team game and my team winning.”
When you leave the verdict of your legacyl up to the feelings and whims of other people, you’re in a precarious position: What if those people don’t like you, your sneakers, your race, your gender, something you tweeted six years ago?
Here’s a better plan: Decide on some KPIs — Key Performance Indicators — that you not only measure, but are in control of, to gage your success. Just like Bill Russell counted winning, or how Apple counts the number of iPhones sold or YouTube counts watch time.
People are fickle. Favor from the audience can shift like the wind. Folks can love you on Tuesday, and cancel you by Thursday.
But, Scoreboards don’t have opinions.
Listen to #1676: Scoreboards Don’t Have Opinions at http://DreAllDay.com/1676-