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