Bill Russell on playing defense: Excerpt from Go Up For Glory

On defending shooters:

“Let’s face it You can only block a shot ten or twenty percent of the time. Your man develops these habits over the years and so you have to learn to make them do what you want them to do; make them switch from their accustomed habit into something new where they are instinctively uncomfortable. If you can do that, then you have them halfway beaten. If he likes the foul line shot, then make him go two feet further back.”

On defending fast breaks:

“Now if there are three guys or two coming at you on a fast break, you must work on the same basic system. The first thing, make them slow up and stop. The second is make them throw a bad, hurried pass. The third is make them commit on a bad shot. The fourth is–block the ball.”

Other basic tenets:

  1. Learn the other man’s habits. Then make him go exactly the opposite to what he likes to do.
  2. When he gets to a position where he is away from his best shot, even if it’s only a foot, make him commit himself and shoot and count on the law of averages being on your side.
  3. If you’re successful, just smile at him as though you can do it every time.

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @goodassgame. For booking inquiries, send contact info to 

Picking Up the Pace [originally posted on 2/17/14]

What more is there to say about the TCU game that hasn’t been tackled? It’s really hard to learn anything from a blowout when you are the winning team. The first half didn’t look so great. Kyan Anderson had 21 first half points (he only score 2 buckets in the second half). Perry Ellis only missed 2 shots the whole game on his way to getting 32 points. He also threw a couple of sick oops to Andrew Wiggins. TCU is terrible and it wouldn’t surprise me if they get relegated from the Big 12 in a couple of years. It seems like the sports program still hasn’t recovered from the “drug scandal” it had a few years back. Kansas goes down to Lubbock to face the “Tortilla tossers.” It could be a long and ugly night. It’ll be interesting to see how they play in that dusty environment. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail en route to a win. It would be unfortunate for them to lose that game because they were looking ahead to Saturday’s rematch with Texas.

The All Star Break is over and the lack of notable games (well except for Kentucky-Florida–which was a pretty good game–with the way UF plays D and their efficient offense, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them in the Final Four) this weekend allowed me to recuperate some of the sleep my body has been lacking. Three quarters of no defense was all that I could endure of the All Star Game (it may as well have been the official dunk contest with all the uncontested dudes were banging away at the rim). I turned the game off and caught up on some sleep (sort of).

The 3 point contest was meh, though I was happy to see Marco Belinelli win it. I like that the NBA is trying new things, but I was not feeling the East vs. West format. Seemed a bit corny to me. The dunk contest was WEAK SAUCE, but the dunk/dancing by champion John Wall was almost worth the $ 4.00 beer I had to buy to watch at a local bar.

Overall, I was a little underwhelmed with the festivities and presentation of the whole weekend. I think it would have been cool to have a local brass band do a NOLA rendition of “America the Beautiful”, and maybe Harry Connick Jr. do the national anthem. I would have loved to have seen Juvenile, Manny Fresh, and Lil Wayne do a Hot Boyz reunion rather than see Pharrell during the pre game ceremony. It just seems like the NBA failed to take advantage of all the local flavor that was available to them (Then again, I don’t know what kind of contractual obligations they had with sponsors. And there is a reason someone is getting paid to make those decisions, and I’m writing a sports blog for free).

Probably my favorite item from the whole thing was the “Happy Birthday” wishes for Bill Russell. It was so cool to see NBA ALL Stars all pay their respects to the greatest winner to ever suit up in an NBA uniform. I couldn’t help but tear up as it was happening. It was pretty touching.

Some really good games coming up this week:

That really nice Syracuse backcourt heads into Cameron Indoor on about 30 minutes before the Texas- Kansas (which will probably determine the Big 12 regular season title) game Saturday night. Michigan-Michigan State matches up on Sunday,if there is nothing better to do, I will probably watch that too. Oh yeah, Duke and North Carolina play on Wednesday, if you’re into that sort of thing.

In the NBA, the Spurs look to finally beat a winning team when they play the Clippers on Tuesday night. Most likely, “Pops” will sit his starters the next night against Portland. If that is the case I’ll just flip to the Warriors and Kings game which is on at the same time.

Thursday will be great viewing, as KD and Lebron face off again, then the Brooklyn Nets come to Oracle arena to face the Warriors.

Sunday evening gives us a John Wall vs. Kyrie Irving match-up, while the matinee game is Thunder-Clippers. Two items about this game. Russell Westbrook might be back as early as Thursday, so this could be two fully equipped squads going at it. The other part is that Blake Griffin will be coming home to Oklahoma City, and he always brings it when he plays at the Ford Center. Oh man. What was that I said about catching up on some sleep?