Brad Stevens explains how Bill Russell helped define ‘the Butler Way'


Bill Russell has impacted so many teams, players and coaches in the sport of basketball since his days as an 11-time champion with the Boston Celtics.

Russell's extraordinary on-court play, his professionalism, compassion and leadership set an incredible example for how to win games consistently and do it with class. 

Russell sadly passed away Sunday at the age of 88. But his legacy will live on for a long, long time.

Forsberg: Bill Russell set the standard for Celtics basketball

Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has been familiar with Russell's rules and lessons for success even before he joined the C's as their head coach in 2013. His men's basketball team at Butler used plenty of Russell material to help define what it wanted to be as a program. 

"I go back to when I was coaching at Butler in the early 2000s, we were trying to define this thing called 'the Butler Way' that was like the principle of how we wanted to be," Stevens said in an interview with NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg.

"We knew what it felt like when a team played really well together and what it looked like when a team played really well together, but we just couldn't wrap our arms around it or define it."

Celtics Talk podcast: Brad Stevens reflects on the life and legacy of Bill Russell | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

That all changed over the offseason thanks to one of Russell's books. 

"Todd Lickliter at the time was the head coach, and that summer he spent reading 'Russell's Rules', and everything was defined for us," Stevens explained.

"Half the stuff in our locker room at Butler, in a school of 4,000 in central Indiana, was written and defined by Bill Russell and his runs with the Celtics. I just think that's the legacy and the game that is just immeasurable.

"I don't know how many programs, whether they know it or not, have taken his words or his lessons and tried to become a team like he led a team here (in Boston)."

There likely are many, many teams in all different sports around the world that use Russell's quotes, teachings or lessons on a daily or yearly basis. He set an incredibly high standard on the basketball court, one that everyone is trying to match. 

But that standard wasn't just set on the playing field. Russell's work in pursuing racial equality and social justice set an incredible example of how we should treat everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Check out Forsberg's full interview with Stevens in the latest Celtics Talk podcast, or watch on YouTube below.


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