Bill Plaschke’s column on Bill Russell was a wonderful tribute.
When pundits talk about Russell’s career as a great winner, they always mention his 11 NBA titles, as they should, but that’s not all. He also led the USF to two consecutive NCAA championships en route to a then-record 60-game winning streak and led the 1956 US Olympic team to a gold medal, long before NBA players could compete for our country.
Bill Russell is the greatest winner in the history of sports. Period.
My memories of Bill Russell were shaped by his longtime KABC radio show. The best so far. I still quote his daily signature out of turn: “Just remember that in life’s department store, sports is the toy department.” That and his unique laugh that Jim Healy played so many times.
Rancho Palos Verdes
In the early 1970s, Bill Russell hosted a radio talk show that aired during the day in Los Angeles. At the time, I only knew him as the centerpiece of the Celtics team that wrecked Lakers championships year after year and broke our hearts, but I soon realized as I listened to him day after day before going to work at night shift that he was a brilliant thinker and deeply philosophic when he often retired from sports, especially in politics and social issues. In addition, he was unwaveringly honest and at times hilarious, and I soon became a fan and admirer of this rare, genuine man. And when the caller asked if some hot new quarterback in the NBA was as good as Jerry West, his immediate and emphatic response was “NO!” And so it was.
According to Bill Plaschke, “The top 20 kids in the country moved to USC from other schools” to play football. Focusing on USC’s recent failures, he quotes Oklahoma transfer guard Caleb Williams as saying, “…we’re here to fix it.” Big! However, speaking to Mr. Williams and other football transfers, they plan to use USC’s generous financial support as an easy ticket to their own fame and fortune, reminding them that education is the cornerstone of the university. Go to class. You’ll reap the benefits long after your NFL days are over.
Yes, even on sports pages you can find synchronous irony. On Sunday, page D1 was dominated at the top of the page by the headline: “His life was on the line – Thomas Cole left the UCLA football club after a suicide attempt.” What follows is the story of a young man who felt constant pressure to play sports in college, in which he excelled, but never felt good enough.
Two inches away is another headline about Bill Plashke’s column: Trojans Uploaded Under High Pressure. As Stan Lee liked to say: “Nuff said!”
A few years ago, when the USC basketball program gave an active player Bill Sharman’s “retired” number, he didn’t get a mention.
For a football program that now “cancels the retirement” of Heisman winner, Carson Palmer’s number should confirm to all alumni that the “Trojan family” has endured a break with their history and tradition.
To hell with tradition! Invite hired football players. Call them “student athletes”, not mercenaries. Forget about the team, school, pride, spirit. It’s all about fame and money. But what about the other 95% of USC footballers? Where is justice, nobility, honor? Obviously it doesn’t matter to USC.
Joseph F. Paji Jr.
Joey Gallo?? Are you serious?? On the other hand, with Gallo, Max Munsey and Cody Bellinger in the lineup at the same time, air conditioning costs inside Dodger Stadium will be minimal.
Uncharacteristically, the Dodgers have defended the future and may have forfeited (along with Juan Soto) the 2022 pennant to the Padres.
The Dodgers beat the Giants, okay. The Dodgers defeated the Giants in a four-game series in Los Angeles. The Dodgers beat the Giants in a four game series in San Francisco, priceless!!
Great job! Great job!
I am a 50 year old subscriber of The Times. Ben Bolch’s article on Thomas Cole. It was one of the most outstanding articles and important things I have read in a long time. Ben’s coverage at UCLA is outstanding. They are deep and informative. The Times got lucky with Ben.
Bravo to Dick Vermeil for induction into the Hall of Fame! Everyone remembers his Super Bowl win with the Eagles, but few remember how he ran UCLA until Ohio State’s shocking 1976 Rose Bowl loss that robbed the Buckeyes of a national championship. It was probably the biggest win in Bruin history!
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