Bill Russell is one of the most outstanding winners in professional sports. You don't win 11 championships in 13 seasons by coincidence, and Russell earned every win he got. He wasn't the flashiest player in the league, but that never mattered to Russell. What did matter was that, at the end of the game, his team ended up with a better score than the opposing team.
Bill Russell details how he beat his opponents
Russell ushered in a new style of basketball that hadn't been seen in the NBA before his arrival. He was a defensive menace who did whatever he could to prevent his opponents from scoring. Russell would get baskets of his own on the other end of the floor, but his rebounding and shot-blocking ability were what made him so good.
Russell was also fantastic at pestering his opponents into submission and opened up about how he could accomplish that throughout his career. Russell's ability to pester his opponents not just on defense but mentally, too, was a crucial part of his game. Without it, maybe Russell wouldn't have been the legendary winner he ended up becoming.
"I understood that the game was played by very insecure people. One of the great players that not many people remember is Walter Bellamy, he was a great player. Physically, I was not up to him on some nights, so I would say, 'what am I going to do?'. I would play very hard defense to keep him from getting the ball, and then I said to him, 'how come they are not passing you the ball?'. And I had been working like a dog for the past five minutes to keep him from getting the ball, and he'd say, 'yeah, they don't treat old Walter right.' And then I had him diverted."
Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain Archive
Bill Russell provides another example of his greatness with this story
Russell's story is basically an old-school version of trash-talking. Russell played mind games with Walter Bellamy to make him upset with his teammates because he wasn't getting the ball when in actuality, he wasn't getting the ball because of Russell's tough defense. Once Russell got that comment from Bellamy, as he mentioned, he knew he'd have him beat. Bellamy's mind was in the wrong spot, so he would be less effective, meaning Russell wouldn't have to work as hard to defend him.
The art of trash-talking in the NBA has become much more prevalent, especially as the game has become more popularized and drawn more attention. But Russell showed an alternative way of how he could use it to break down his opponents, and he used it like a charm here on Bellamy. Chances are Bellamy wasn't Russell's only victim with this tactic, and it's another example of Russell's greatness in a career full of them.