Celtics legend Bill Russell knows a thing or two about winning championships. After all, the Hall of Fame center won 11 titles during his 13 seasons in Boston. So when Russell chose to impart some of his knowledge on Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker, you bet Baker listened.
Now, Baker believes his 2021 Astros squad has what it takes to win a World Series — because he thinks his team has the secret ingredient Russell told him about.
Speaking to reporters following the Astros’ American League Division Series victory over the Chicago White Sox, Baker revealed what Russell told him when they met several years ago:
“I remember talking to Bill Russell years ago, a few years ago, and I asked him, man, how did you win all those championships in Boston, and he told me, you know — I thought he was going to say Red Auerbach, you know lot of hard work.
But he told me that they loved each other, and they love each other. And love can take you to heights you never thought you could get to. And they feed off of each other and pull for each other on a daily basis. And one guy falls down, and the next guy, you know, picks him up.”
Baker has referenced this meeting before — in 2015, he name-dropped Russell when he was announced as the Washington Nationals manager, and he did so again in 2020, when he revealed in a Sports Illustrated Kids interview that he had a distaste for the Celtics as a child because he was a Los Angeles Lakers fan.
The three-time Manager of the Year has won just one pennant in his career, with the San Francisco Giants in 2002. Now, he’ll head to Russell’s territory for at least two games to try and lead his Astros to the American League pennant against the Boston Red Sox.
We’ll be waiting to see if Russell chimes in.