Monday, April 16, 2012

1961 Fleer Bill Russell


For awhile when I was in college at Houston I had a job doing the p.a. and/or electronic scoreboard for the women's varsity basketball games. Through that job I ended up spending one Sunday afternoon working as the scoreboard operator for an ABC televised NBA game between the Pistons and Rockets at Hofheinz Pavilion on campus.

I found myself one seat away from the guy doing the color commentary, none other than Bill Russell. Other than his saying "Hello" to me (and everyone else working the table) I had no interaction with him. And I knew better than to ask for an autograph. He was a notorious non-signer back then. But it was a cool thing to be that close to a legend, especially a Celtic legend like Russell. If I had a rooting interest in an NBA team growing up, the Celtics were it. The Boston-Los Angeles playoff rivalry was worth watching even if a lot of the NBA wasn't.

I had been wanting a vintage Bill Russell for a long time. The field of possibilities was narrower than getting a Johnny U or even a Gordie Howe card. But patience (and a compromise) paid off.

I found this one on eBay. It was pretty cheap. It has back damage as it appears to have been glued down (carefully) to an album page or some such thing. Not much to the front of these as you can see. Black and white shot, name and card title, and a color block with the team name and logo.

Two things about this card:

1) I like that you can see Russell's black Converse, a Celtic 'trademark', and

2) Look at how much the Celtic logo guy's pose resembles Russell's leaping 'pose' on the card. Well, sort of. If you squint a bit.