Raw footage for the 1986 television special "Once a Star." Shot during the 1986 NBA All Star weekend. This tape is a continuation of an interview with Cazzie Russell (1944-) before the game.
00:00Copy video clip URL Color bars. Cazzie Russell can be heard talking in the background.
00:40Copy video clip URL Russell sits in the stands, with the court visible behind him. Producer Tom Weinberg asks Russell about his life after basketball. Russell states that he lives a quiet, conservative life, playing golf, staying in shape, and coaching. However, Russell has not been directly involved in basketball the past year. The interview is interrupted by cheerleaders practicing on the court.
02:45Copy video clip URL Weinberg comments on Russell’s intense, direct character. Russell responds, “I don’t want to come over and waste time. Time is too valuable. That’s my personality. That’s my life. I’m busy doing things. I’m hyper to a certain degree.”
03:37Copy video clip URL Russell and Weinberg talk college basketball with one another. Russell then begins to talk about his preference for team basketball. “I scored when I had to, but as far as team basketball is concerned… it rules out. It’s okay to win scoring titles but if you don’t win a championship, man, what good is it? I think a lot of players would give up a scoring championship right now today for a championship ring. I guarantee you they would.”
04:25Copy video clip URL The tape cuts. A man on the court participates in a shooting competition, attempting to shoot baskets from the three-point line. The camera operator cuts back to Russell shortly afterward. The crew asks Russell to talk about the best player he’s seen out on the court. Russell responds, “You guys got an hour? Are you kidding me? I mean I came in in ’66. I saw all of the great ones: Chamberlain, the Russells, the Griers, the Havilcheks, the Robertsons. I saw them all, man!”
06:27Copy video clip URL Russell elaborates on his admiration for Oscar Robertson. Russell states that playing against Robertson is a “big thrill.” “To be able to come back and see all these guys and to play with your idol. I mean how many guys can really say that they had a chance to sit next to their idol, and talk with him, and shoot around with him, and play against him? That’s a great thrill.” Russell believes that talent in basketball players lasts their whole lives: “It’s just like riding a bike, Tom. You never lose it. That technique is embedded. You know it’s there. You love it. You enjoy it. You want to give it to somebody else.” Russell explains some of the shooting tactics he learned from Oscar Robertson, the ability to “take over” a game when necessary, and the need for younger players to be multifaceted.
10:00Copy video clip URL Weinberg asks Russell about the “basketball high” before Russell goes on to talk about the inter-connectivity between his teammates when he “took over.” “You motivate yourself. You find ways to motivate yourself. There are going to be nights where you’re not going to play worth a darn, but you find ways to win.” Russell then talks about his competitive spirit when golfing. “The intensity, the competitive, flows right into whatever I take. Whatever I want to do, that competitive, that intensity is there. That’s my make-up.”
14:05Copy video clip URL Weinberg asks Russell about the effect of basketball salaries on players. Russell himself tries to remain “low key” when it comes to money. He talks about the changes to NBA salaries. “The players have gotten better, faster. You got centers and power forwards handling the ball as well as guards… With the changing of talent, the money has changed also. Guys are making a million, two million a year, and an athlete’s life is short-lived. So you gotta grab for all the gusto you can because when you get to be forty, forty-one, you want to feel like I gave it all I had. I really got the most out of it. I made the money fine.” Russell then talks about his admiration for the pioneers of the game. He also talks about the many friends he’s made over the years in the NBA and states that once you’re out of the league, friends are really hard to come by.
18:14Copy video clip URL Tape ends.