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Celtics’ Bill Russell Considering Retirement

Mar. 27, 1964 - Boston Celtics’ star Bill Russell is considering retiring from the NBA after the current playoffs because of his mental and physical condition. The three-time NBA most valuable player made that admission while commenting on a story which reported that he was on the “verge of a nervous breakdown.”

Russell said that he might undergo minor surgery this summer, had been playing despite medical advice that his career could be ended by injury, and that it was “very possible” that he will retire next summer or the following year.

Club officials said they did not believe that Russell’s retirement was imminent and said they felt Russell was “just depressed during this long layoff before the playoff finals.”

The loss of Russell, imminent or otherwise, would be a major blow to the six-time NBA champions who recently won their eighth straight regular season Eastern Division title. Backcourt ace Bob Cousy retired just last year, while two other veterans, Frank Ramsey and Jim Loscutoff, already have announced they will not play next season.

Russell’s admission that he had received medical advice “two months ago” that his career was in jeopardy presumably stemmed from the arthritic condition he has had in his knees for several years. But the 6-10 former San Francisco all-American indicated that his most pressing problem was lack of sleep. Russell said he was “lucky” if he got more than two hours of sleep in any one night.

Russell declined to discuss the nature of proposed surgery this summer except to say it was “not major.” However, a club spokesman said it would “probably be for a growth on his eyelid.”

Russell, who holds most NBA rebounding records while playing with the Celtics, declined to discuss his unspecified “personal problems.”


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