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Bill Plaschke's column on Bill Russell was a beautiful tribute.
When pundits talk about Russell's career as a great winner, they always mention his 11 NBA titles, as they should, but that's not the whole story. He also led USF to two consecutive NCAA championships on the way to a then-record 60-game winning streak and led the 1956 U.S. Olympic team to the gold medal, long before NBA players could compete for our country.
Bill Russell is the greatest winner in sports history. Period.
My memories of Bill Russell were shaped by his long ago radio show on KABC. The best to this day. I still quote his daily sign off line: “Just remember, in the department store of life, sports is the toy department." That and his unique laugh, which Jim Healy played so many times.
Rancho Palos Verdes
Bill Russell had a radio talk show that aired afternoons in L.A. in the early 1970s. At that time I only knew him as the central figure on a Celtics team that thwarted Lakers championships year after year and broke our hearts, but I soon realized, from listening to him day after day before going to work on a night shift, that he was a brilliant thinker and profoundly philosophical when he often drifted away from sports, especially on politics and social issues. He was also unswervingly honest and at times hilarious, and I soon became a fan and admirer of this rare, authentic human being. And when a caller asked if a certain new, hot guard in the NBA was as good as Jerry West, his instant and emphatic answer was "NO!" And that was that.
“A nation-leading 20 kids have transferred to USC from other schools” to play football, according to Bill Plaschke. Focusing on USC’s most recent gridiron failures, he quotes Oklahoma quarterback transfer Caleb Williams as saying, “…we’re here to turn that around.” Great! However, speaking to Mr. Williams and other football transfers planning to use USC’s generous financial support as an easy ticket to their own fame and fortune, a reminder that the cornerstone of the university is education. Go to class. You’ll benefit long after your NFL days are over.
Yes, even in the Sports pages one can find synchronistic irony. On Sunday, page D1 above the fold was dominated by this headline: “HIS LIFE WAS ON THE LINE — Thomas Cole left UCLA football after a suicide attempt.” What follows is a story of a young man who felt constant pressure in playing a college sport in which he excelled, but never felt good enough.
Two inches away is another headline over Bill Plaschke’s column: “Loaded Trojans under heavy pressure.” As Stan Lee liked to say, "'Nuff said!”
A few years ago, when the USC basketball program gave Bill Sharman’s “retired” number to a current player it didn’t get a mention.
For the football program to now “un-retire” Heisman winner Carson Palmer’s number should confirm for all alumni that the “Trojan family” has gone through a divorce from its history and tradition.
Tradition be damned! Bring in the hired football players. Call them “Student Athletes” not mercenaries. Forget about team, school, pride, spirit. It’s all about notoriety and money. But what about the other 95% of the USC football players? Where’s the equity, nobility, honor? Apparently it’s of no consequence to USC.
Joseph F. Paggi Jr.
Joey Gallo?? Are you serious?? On the other hand, with Gallo, Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger in the lineup at the same time air conditioning costs will be at a bare minimum inside Dodger Stadium.
Uncharacteristically, the Dodgers protected the future and may have forfeited (along with Juan Soto) the 2022 pennant to the Padres.
The Dodgers beating the Giants, good. The Dodgers sweeping the Giants in a four game series in Los Angeles, better. The Dodgers sweeping the Giants in a four game series in San Francisco, priceless!!
I am a 50-year subscriber of The Times. The article by Ben Bolch about Thomas Cole. It was one of the most outstanding articles and important things I have read in a long time. Ben’s UCLA coverage is outstanding. They are in depth and informative. The Times is fortunate to have Ben.
Bravo to Dick Vermeil for Hall of Fame induction! Everyone remembers his Super Bowl win with the Eagles, but few remember him guiding UCLA to its shocking upset of Ohio State in the 1976 Rose Bowl, which deprived the Buckeyes of the national championship. It was probably the biggest win in Bruin history!
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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.