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Video: Bill Russell hurdles a defender for a fast-break layup

By Rob Mahoney

There's a temptation to say that today's NBA players are more athletic across the board than their predecessors, but doing so would discount the ridiculous speed and hops of the athletic freaks who ruled throughout the seasons of yore. Among that crop was consummate champion big man Bill Russell -- an all-timer revered for his cerebral game, but not often given his due as a natural athlete.

The video above should put Russell's old-school athleticism in the appropriate focus. Then again, maybe "focus" is the wrong word; the quality of the footage is hardly pristine, but it's a gem of a clip nonetheless given the rarity of this kind of footage. This coast-to-coast sequence supposedly occurred while Russell was playing at the University of San Francisco, and though elements of the clip are clearly sped up and slowed down, those effects don't distort the glaring athletic advantage that Russell flashes in literally leaping over a defender for a score.

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