Bill Russell remains in total control

PHOENIX – Blocked shots weren’t an official NBA statistic until the 1973-74 season, four years after Bill Russell had retired. But the tales of his swats are legendary, and often the corollary to the story is that he didn’t just send the ball out of bounds. Rather, he guided it to a teammate to start a fast break.

And the big guy still has it. When a national reporter began a question with, “It was not easy for you to be an African-American . . .,” Russell stepped in and said, “Yes, it was.”