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Bill Russell Teaches LeBron James A Lesson After Being Left Off Hypothetical Mount Rushmore

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LeBron James and Bill Russell (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

LeBron James and Bill Russell (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — Last week, LeBron James was asked to create a hypothetical Mount Rushmore, made up of four of the NBA’s greatest players. LeBron left Bill Russell, the man with more championships than anyone else, off the list.

How did Russell take the news? Apparently, quite thankfully.

During the broadcast of Sunday night’s NBA All-Star Game, TNT’s Craig Sager passed along a story of the 80-year-old Russell talking with James prior to the game.

“Well, before the game, LeBron James was talking to Bill Russell,” Sager said on the broadcast, “and Bill said, ‘Hey, thank you for leaving me off your Mount Rushmore. I’m glad you did. Basketball is a team game. It’s not for individual honors. I won back-to-back state championships in high school, back-to-back NCAA championships in college, I won an NBA championship my first year in the league, an NBA championship my last year, and nine in between. And that, Mr. James, is etched in stone.’”

That right there is a Rushmore-worthy response if there ever was one.

Russell is, of course, one of the all-time greats, and that’s whether or not he’s in anyone’s top four. He doesn’t have a history with James, per se, though LeBron did make a bit of a slight — unintentional or otherwise — when he switched jersey numbers from 23 to 6, saying no player should wear Michael Jordan’s number. The No. 6 was Russell’s number, meaning James took no issue wearing it.

Still, there doesn’t seem to be any animosity between the two. The past two years, Russell handed the Finals MVP Award, which is named in his honor, to LeBron.

Last May, Russell said in a roundtable discussion about James, “Would I have loved playing with LeBron? Of course.”

It looks like Russell’s settled for the next best thing: Teacher.

Bill Russell posing with his championship rings (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Bill Russell posing with his championship rings (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

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