Bill Russell still has a great track record at the University of San Francisco

The modern NBA player is an athlete far superior to his predecessors, so the worn-out trophy goes. Retired sniper J.J. Reddick put a new spin on the debate recently, when he said Celtics legend Bob Cousy “was running Guarded by plumbers and firefightersIn the fifties and sixties.

Watch a special, likable reel dribble Cousy in circles, and it’s hard not to give a metaphor some credibility. At least one of his teammates on Cousy’s Celtics was more consistent than the average plumber, and the conclusive proof is in the record books of an entirely different sport.

Bill Russell, who died Sunday at the age of 88, Still holds University of San Francisco school record in the high jump. It has stood for 66 years. Russell was fond of telling younger generations that he could crash at any age, telling a group of Hall of Fame centers that he They will kick their butts.

In 2020, Kendrick Perkins said LeBron James was “the most athletic player in NBA history!!!” Russell, perhaps the most dignified man ever to shout at Kendrick Perkins on Twitter, responded with a photo of himself clearing an impossibly high bar, helpfully providing a brief history of his high jump exploits. “At 56 I could have competed in the Olympics in the high jump, but I turned it down to play basketball instead, we could only do one sport at the time,” Russell wrote.

“Track and Field News ranked me the 7th highest jumper in the world, and I ranked 2nd in the US at the moment,” he added. (Larly: 7th in the world and 3rd in the US, according to that year track and field news.) Russell also returned to the USF track team in the spring of his freshman year, and only because he could skip rehearsals, because “He was so tired of the rigors of the basketball season“As reported in James W. Johnson’s History of that Era of USF Basketball,”Dandy Dons. “

At West Coast Relays in Fresno in May 1956, Russell jumped 6 feet 9.25 inches (2.06 meters) for the still standing USF School record. Draw That day with Charlie Dumas. Later in the year 56, Duma became the first human to jump in the 7-foot high jump, and won the Olympic gold medal in Melbourne.

Russell’s school record won’t be broken any time soon, believes Matthew McGee, an assistant track and field coach at USF, who oversees sprints, jumps and hurdles for the USF track program. He was particularly impressed by the Russell brand given that she came in the prehistoric era of high jumping, before the sport was really advanced.

“There was a revolution in the high jump in the late 1960s,” McGee said. “Everyone’s starting to use the Fosbury Flop, so they’re back off the bar rather than forward. Russell jumped sometime before that revolution. It’s a form of high jump that’s very athletically demanding and requires a lot of flexibility and movement. Surprisingly he was able to.” to jump as high as he did in his prime.”

But as Russell’s private tweet shows, he wasn’t even using the methods prevalent at the time; Looks like he’s been walking around in the crossbar or doing roll “western” Instead of the “straddle” roll that elite jumpers like Dumas use.

“Nothing against our USF basketball players,” McGee said, “but no one is even close to being able to jump that far on the team right now, and this is a team that has gone to [NCAA] Competition. …I think a very small percentage of players in the NBA can do that. It takes incredibly physically to be able to do more than 2.06 [meters]. “

As McGee points out, there’s another reason for the Russell tag to appear: Dons’ track and field team is only partially funded, and hasn’t recruited a male in the high jump in years, essentially sealing Russell’s record in amber. The Dons family has excelled at distance events in recent years, even with the women’s cross country team finishing second in the NCAA in 2017. But without an on-campus track, or a whole host of scholarships, I found any high jump—not to mention a player Like Russell-Saab, McGee said. While they had a few athletes in field events, there was no high jump on the men’s racing team Since at least 2010if not longer.

The high jump is a highly specialized technical event, which means it is rarely paired with a second event and requires extensive technical instruction. This also underscores how impressive Russell’s performance was, as it came despite minimal practice or polished technique. (Perkins’ Russell tweet shows that he competed at least once with one shoe lost, for an extra degree of difficulty.)

It’s never something that happens,” McGee said. “It would be like a player on the USF basketball team jumped 7-foot-6 today. Unbelievable.”