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Why Bill Russell refused to sign autographs

Russell didn't just dismiss people asking for an autograph. He had an even better counter-offer.
Bill Russell

Bill Russell

Last night, at the age of 88, Bill Russell passed away. In honor of Russ and his mind-blowing 11 rings, we bring you our favorite 11 stories published over the years. From fun facts and anecdotes to historical moments on and off the court, they encapsulate the man, the myth, the legend - Bill Russell. 

After the NBA game ends, every player has to walk past dozens of fans cheering and hoping to get something signed by their basketball idols. Their reaction is dependent on their performance. Most often than not, you’ll see them just walking by with their heads held down. However, occasional interaction will occur, and some lucky fans will get the everlasting memory of basketball’s finest - an autograph. 

Why Bill Russell didn't sign autographs

One NBA legend had a unique approach when it came to interactions with fans. 11x NBA champ Bill Rusell wanted to make those interactions much more personal instead of him simply putting ink onto a piece of paper. Or whatever they wanted to be signed.

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“I don't believe in autographs. Let's have a cup of coffee instead.”

Bill Russell

Russell went so far that he would rather spend 10-15 minutes explaining to people why he wouldn’t sign something for them than taking 5 seconds and getting it over with. He stuck to his approach and had no problem actually meeting people who sought an autograph from him.

“If a fan doesn't want to have a chat with you, he was going to sell that autograph anyway”

Bill Russell

Otherwise, he’d seen it as a financial transaction, which eventually had him stop signing them. Russell was the type who had doubts about people’s intentions and didn’t want someone using him for his popularity. That’s why he offered a simple solution: you won’t get anything signed by him, but you will get 15 minutes of coffee time with one of the greatest to ever play the game. I bet he would’ve even paid for the coffee.

Now tell me, what would you choose? Having something signed by your NBA idol, or actually sitting with the guy, developing some sort of relationship with him? I know what my choice would’ve been, and you can’t put a price on such an experience.

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