RUSSELL: RETIREMENT AND REGRET
I read with admiration Bill Russell's statement on his retirement ("I'm Not Involved Anymore," Aug. 4). No one would deny that it took courage for Russell to play the last two or three years with his ailments, but by retiring now I believe he is showing even greater courage. Certainly he could keep on playing, but he thinks the Celtics will be a better team without him. Sportsman of the year? Sportsman of the Decade!
MARK A. MCLEAN
Bill Russell has done things for basketball that few have done for their sports. Professional sports are racked with money-hungry people. But watching Bill Russell did something for you because you knew it was love for the game that led him on and made him strive for greatness and perfection. He did not go through the motions—and then head for the nearest bank.
I for one do not believe that Russell will go through with his decision to retire. Once practice time draws near, he'll be yearning for the feel of a basketball in his hands and will head for Boston. But if my woman's intuition fails me, and he does hang up his uniform, I doubt if the Celtics will fall by the wayside. Because they are a team.
Last May in Los Angeles the Celtics did not have better or more able-bodied men. Russell was running with muscular pains; Sam Jones played with two bad ankles; Larry Siegfried looked as though he'd been hit repeatedly by a truck. On the other hand, Los Angeles had Jerry West, scoring close to 40 points a game; one of the greatest forwards in Elgin Baylor; and, of course, Wilt Chamberlain.
August 17, 1969
Who won the 1969 NBA World Championship? The Celtics did. The Lakers were separate entities: Chamberlain, West, Baylor and others. The Celtics were not merely five men on a basketball court; they were (and are) one team. Though Russell, the man who played an integral part in the Celtics' victories, may not be around much longer, the team will continue to bring pennants to Boston.
AVIS E. ORTOLANO
I would like to thank Bill Russell for all he has done for the city of Boston and the National Basketball Association. Now he is gone and the Celtics' opponents can breathe a sigh of relief that they will no longer have to face that eerie intimidation that only Russell could radiate when he was on the floor. Thank you, Mr. Russell, for bringing pride, glory and 11 world championships to Boston.
How could Bill do it to us? How could he quit when there's still one year of glory left for the greatest team in history? Please, Bill, come back to basketball.
I am only one person, but if just a few more write in and express their view of Bill Russell's retirement it might be enough to get him to play at least one more year. I am 14 years old and have followed the Celtics since I was 10.
Thanks for a great article on Derek Clayton (This Is One Stag Who Can Outrun the Hounds, Aug. 4). Very few people realize the hardships of training for a marathon. Most people could not run one mile under five minutes—much less 26 of them.
As a long-distance runner, I wish to express my thanks for Gwilym Brown's excellent article on Australia's Derek Clayton. How true it is about the perils of a long-distance man, the pain of a swollen knee, or the task of waking up for a 6 a.m. run! As world-class amateur athletes, Clayton and his teammate Ron Clarke have been an inspiration to me.
BAD BREAKS AND THE PACKERS
Congratulations to Jerry Kramer for writing one of the best articles published by any magazine. Death by Inches (Aug. 4), written by one of the better guards in professional football history, is the most touching thing I've ever read. Mr. Kramer goes through an exacting account of the downfall of the greatest football dynasty ever.
I have been a fan of the Green Bay Packers for many years, and I must say that this year has been a saddening experience. Mr. Kramer says, "Everybody, it seems, has his own explanation for what went wrong." Well, I didn't. I was stunned when the Packers dropped down, and I didn't know what to think. After reading the article, I developed the opinion that it was the mental attitude that led to the downfall.
Santa Ana, Calif.
The injuries and bad breaks listed by Jerry Kramer in his fine article are certainly astounding. It may seem the entire league's misfortunes were dropped on Green Bay.
But let us now look at Chicago, one of Green Bay's chief opponents. Gale Sayers, Mr. Bear himself, was lost to his club for the most crucial games. If football is a game of inches, then that set the Bears back 10 feet, or maybe six yards per carry.
The Minnesota Vikings, the victors in the Central Division, lost the full effectiveness of several key players, including Dave Osborn. Osborn is a player who can mean the difference between an 8-6 or an 11-3 record.
Green Bay certainly did have trying times, but let's not knock the Vikings' or the Bears' play. The Packers do not have a monopoly on bad breaks.
Retired football player Jerry Kramer's confession was particularly appealing to me as an example of a defeated man probing his inner self for the source of his past motivation. Kramer candidly confronted the question—the source of his motivation as being truly his own, as opposed to a gift from his ex-coach, Vince Lombardi. Kramer's admission that the source was too little his own and too much Lombardi's is why I feel his article is both insightful and a confession.
In a world where the code is one of force and brutality, Jerry Kramer stands out as a remarkable paradox. On the one hand he is able to participate in this world of violence as one of its ablest members, while on the other hand he possesses the sensitivity to appreciate and record the significance and emotions of his experiences. The beautiful simplicity with which he tells his tale of human relationships in a crisis situation presents the reader with a truly priceless gift.
ROBERT PAUL LAMB