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Bill Russell

Cornerstone of the Boston Celtics' Dynasty

Bill Russell: I played with a guy (Tom Sanders) that wore contact lenses. Okay? His field of vision was like this. Anything outside of that circle he could not see. He just could not see it. If you passed the ball right here he could not see it. Well, I would consider it a bad pass if I threw a pass around his knees. I would not grumble and say, "He should have caught that." That's not true. So when I passed to him I tried to make sure that the pass arrived up here where he could catch it, and with the velocity. If the ball is going to come out of nowhere right to here, well, if it's too hard he can't catch it. It's not saying he has bad hands. That's a bad pass. Well, to be able to acknowledge that you are the one that made the mistake and you might want to talk to him about passes, so that he can first of all give you a good target and be ready to catch it and ready to do something with it after he caught it. These are little things that not a lot of attention is paid to. One thing that my coach did was he did a remarkable job of contingencies, so that whatever comes up, his goal was no surprises. Especially when the game comes down to the last minute -- although sometimes that's not the key part of the game, a lot of people think that (it's) the last three minutes. The game may be won in the first quarter, because I know we used to talk sometimes, and he'd say, "Basically, you only have to outplay the other team three minutes out of 48. If you outplay them those three minutes and play even the rest of the time, you win the game."
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Bill Russell

Cornerstone of the Boston Celtics' Dynasty

Bill Russell: What we always did with the Celtics was, when we hit a bad streak, we would not worry or concern ourselves about what we did poorly. We would go back and consider, "Against this team, what did we do well?" And that's what we're going to do the rest of the game. And so, when I told Shaquille that, there was a writer there that said, "You've got to learn to make a free throw," and I said, "Listen, I would never say that to you. Of course you should shoot better free throws, of course, but do not let that be the dominant theme of your improvement. If I was going to tell you about anything to improve, make yourself the best passing center in the league." Because in the way the game is played today, the single most important skills a team can have is be a good passing team. Because with these zones, and man-to-man zones, and two and three and all that crap, there are always passing lanes open. And to be able to know what kind of pass to use in a passing lane. Players, for example, we should practice peripheral vision, so that I can see both my hands now, okay? But when we're shooting a pass it's like a beam of light, you narrow it so that you can do that. Now if I narrow my vision to pass to you, someone could stand one foot outside that and you cannot see them. They can reach in the lane, but if they step outside your narrow vision you can't see them. And you really, this is actual, they can't see you. So you can actually hide in plain sight.
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Bill Russell

Cornerstone of the Boston Celtics' Dynasty

I think that that move that I made at half time was the most important move I made as a coach in that series, because it worked, and we got accomplished what we wanted to get accomplished without them knowing what we were trying to accomplish. See everybody still talks about the fact that Wilt only took two shots. They still almost won the game, right? And the key was that Chet Walker had been killing us. And I knew that I could guard him. And the reason I knew I could guard him is his moves were very deliberate. As part of my teaching myself, I learned -- we had six plays and nowadays they number those positions. One is point guard, two is shooting guard, three is a small forward, four is a power forward, five is a center. Well, I made a point to learn how to play all those positions on all six plays. Now not that I ever wanted to or hoped to play in those other positions, but in knowing those positions I know the problems that go with that position. So that if my teammate needed help I can help. And on defense I watched these guys, how they play defense, and I know how to guard almost any position. And I physically took over Chet.
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Bill Russell

Cornerstone of the Boston Celtics' Dynasty

The key to really being effective at blocking shots is for the shooter to think he's gotten away. And that way you can block it, you can control it. You don't knock it in his stance, you treat it like when the ball leaves his hand you treat it like a rebound, you hit it to some place that you can get it. And so that block with Chet was part of the plan. You see the one thing that my coach and I, we used to always talk about, the least amount of things you leave to chance, the better off you are. And so we were -- offensively and defensively -- always on the attack, because Red used to say, "I don't need to scout, I don't need to scout." I said, "Red, why don't you need to scout?" "The hell with them. I don't worry about what they do, let them worry about what we're going to do."
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Albie Sachs

Constitutional Court of South Africa

I was doing fascinating, interesting work. I was working on a new bill of rights, why we needed a bill of rights in a free South Africa. And there was a lot of opposition from very progressive, very bright, young black students to a bill of rights. They saw it as a "bill of whites." That the bill of rights was there to be opposed to democracy. "Once we get the vote, we won't be able to do anything because our hands will be tied by provisions in the constitution that will insure that all the property " and by law the whites owned 87 percent of the surface area of South Africa. But "By law they would be able to hang on to 87 percent of the surface area through a bill of rights. They would constitutionalize apartheid." And I had to explain -- and under Oliver Tambo's leadership I was given the authority and the responsibility of doing that -- "The bill of rights can be emancipatory, a progressive bill of rights that includes social economic rights, that allows for transformation and change under conditions of equality and fairness is part of a bill of rights. We mustn't allow extremely conservative, ultra-conservative people to write the bill of rights and tie our hands and make the constitution an unpopular document in our country. We must insure that the terms of the bill of rights recognize the rights of everybody, and especially the rights of the dispossessed, the marginalized, the poor, the women suffering under patriarchal domination, the children who have no rights at all, people dispossessed of their land, workers trying to get a decent job with a decent wage. They are all part and parcel of the bill of rights project, as well as people who invest who want their investments protected, who want to insure that there is a rule of law if there should be any economic transformation." So we were debating all these questions while we were in exile, and it meant we were ready. We were ready when the day came.
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Albie Sachs

Constitutional Court of South Africa

We had a very industrious team. We worked day and night, day and night. We'd lived everywhere in the world. We'd lived in the United States and Canada. We'd lived in East Germany and West Germany. We'd lived in Cuba and we'd lived in the Argentine. We'd lived all over Europe, all over Africa. We didn't have to study textbooks to know about political systems. We had to remember our lives in the Soviet Union. We'd seen advantages and disadvantages of different systems, and we had a very, very powerful negotiating team. And in the end, I think it's fair to say all the main elements of our constitutional order derived their strength from the wisdom of the leadership of the ANC in wanting a constitution that would embrace everybody, and that was the vision of Oliver Tambo. He'd always had that. He'd always had the vision of the Freedom Charter, an open, pluralistic, democratic society where people could say their say. They could agree to disagree, as long as they agreed on certain basic fundamentals. No human being was more important than any other human being, that everybody had to be looked at with equal respect and concern. That was foundational, and that was our answer to the idea of the whites having special reserved seats and veto powers which would have been a disaster in South Africa. Whites had to be people like everybody else, with the same rights, responsibilities and duties. The same concerns, anxieties, hopes for their children, whatever it might be. Fully respected, but not somehow a specially protected group in our society. We fought hard for that, and we won that in the new constitution order.
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Jonas Salk

Developer of Polio Vaccine

In some instances, anti-semitism played a role. I always realized that was always a factor. In fact, I almost didn't get into medical school because of quotas at that time. So, I was prepared for other eventualities. I was already prepared to go to graduate school to study endocrinology, for example, if I had not gone into medical school. It becomes necessary to be prepared for alternative paths. There may be a greater opportunity when something is denied.
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Jonas Salk

Developer of Polio Vaccine

Reason alone will not serve. Intuition alone can be improved by reason, but reason alone without intuition can easily lead the wrong way. The both are necessary. The way I like to put it is that I might have an intuition about something, I send it over to the reason department. Then after I've checked it out in the reason department, I send it back to the intuition department to make sure that it's still all right. For myself, that's how my mind works, and that's how I work. That's why I think that there is both an art and a science to what we do. The art of science is as important as so-called technical science. You need both. It's this combination that must be recognized and acknowledged and valued.
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