Russell checks in before Spurs-Heat NBA Finals

Russell checks in before Spurs-Heat NBA Finals
June 5, 2014, 3:45 pm
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Bill Russell knows a thing or two - or 11 - about winning NBA championships.

The man is one of the all-time greats to ever play the game, and when it comes to winning he's behind no one.

Like most of us basketball fans, Russell will be locked on to the NBA Finals this year, a rematch between the Spurs and the Heat.

The Heat are looking for a three-peat, while the Spurs look for revenge, and another championship for their own big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli.

Russell provided some thoughts on this year's NBA Finals for NBA.com. He said that his C's championship teams were always focused on the present, not getting caught up with past success.

“It might seem strange but I did not know our Celtic teams won eight championships in a row until about 20 years ago when I read about it in a game program" Russell wrote. "Our focus was always on that particular season, always one year at a time. The year we played had nothing to do with the previous year or the next year. That’s just the way it was.”

Russell played with plenty of Hall of Famers, but he says there are a handful of players in this year's NBA Finals he'd love to play with. You can probably guess who they are.

“I would have liked to have played with the three guys in San Antonio – Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili – because they put the most pressure on the defense and if you could play at all, it would be easy and fun to play with them," Russell wrote. "The same thing is true of LeBron and Dwyane Wade. Both guys are really, really good. And when I say good, I’m not limiting it to only scoring, they also excel as defenders and passers.”

Russell especially admires Duncan though.

“I’m a big fan of Tim Duncan," he wrote. "He’s playing at a high level at an age (38) where a lot of people are not playing. He has successfully been able to intelligently change his game to fit his body this year. But as far as I’m concerned, he’s a center, not a forward. Most of his work is done in the post. I wouldn’t list him as a forward or as a guard. I would list him as a great player. Period.”

Of course, Russell couldn't help but look back on the last time he had a rematch in the NBA Finals. It was 1969, and it was a great opportunity to remind everybody how Boston once again beat the Lakers.

“Now, this is a second year in a row the Heat and Spurs will play each other and with the Celtics, we’ve had some experience playing the Los Angeles Lakers in back-to-back Finals on three separate occasions," Russell wrote. "The last time being in 1969 when we went to a seventh game against them in Los Angeles. That season we had finished fourth in the Eastern Conference, securing the last playoff spot. We get to the seventh game of The Finals and I said to the guys, ‘The Lakers don’t have a chance tonight.’ And they looked at me like I had lost it.”

Russell hadn't lost it - and still hasn't.