Bill Russell: That was my rookie year. You see, up until that time, in general, rookies were not people yet. “All they do is cost you ball games, making rookie mistakes.” Well, Tom Heinsohn had one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen. He had 38 points and 23 rebounds, which was not a bad afternoon, and fouled out in the first overtime playing defense. Okay? And Frank Ramsey, who originated the six-man position, we had the last two points in the game, and we won by two in double overtime.
Getting into double overtime, I went, I made a “back-door,” and I got the pass too late to make the basket, so I went, I missed the shot and I went out. Well, they got the rebound uncontested and outlet it to a guy at half court, Coleman. And we didn’t have anybody past the top of the foul circle. So all he had to do was dribble down and lay it up. Well, I come back on the court, and I see what’s happening, and I take off. And I ran by everybody and I caught him. And when he got the ball at half court, I was still out of bounds on the baseline. And I saw nobody was going after him, so I went after him. And not being too modest, I was probably — if not the, closest to — the fastest man in the league. Nobody knew that though. So I caught him and I blocked his shot, and I didn’t knock it in the stands. I blocked the shot and kept it in play. I almost forgot about the play until Heinsohn and Cousy and those guys were talking about it that that was the greatest play they’d ever seen. I wasn’t going to let us lose, not standing around anyway. If we were going to lose, we were going to lose fighting.