What it take to be No. 1 – by Bill Russell

Bill Russell

“The first part’s easy. You arrange to be born with a lot of the tools. In my game that means a good pair of hands and a good set of reflexes. Coming on at 6’9” doesn’t hurt you too much, either.

“But that’s only the beginning. Because to get to where you want to go, you’ve got to drive and push yourself relentlessly. You’ve got to want to win so badly that the thought of coming in second is simply intolerable. And you’ve got to pay the price of winning.

“Paying the price, in anything you do, is spelled “work.” Days and nights and years of work. And it’s too bad that many men – men who are born with the basic talent –think of “work” as a dirty word.

“But there’s another angle to being No. 1. Getting there is tough enough. Staying there is something else. It is, in fact, a lot like being a gunfighter. Day after day…80 grueling games a year, another hot young hand comes on to try you. He’s watched and studied you ever since he was a kid. And he thinks he’s ready to take you. And the fact is that if you let up for a moment, he’ll do it. You lose that fine, competitive edge, mentally or physically, and you’re dead.

“Forget about luck, You make your own luck. A year or so ago a prominent football coach put it pretty well. He said “There’s only one thing I believe about luck….it’s unlucky to be behind at the end of the game.” And that’s what it’s all about.

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