At 6' 9" tall, Bill Russell might have been considered undersized compared to Wilt Chamberlain, the premier big man of his time who towered over Russell at 7' 1". Height certainly matters in basketball, but I believe heart is much more important, as Bill Russell proved again and again during his career.
Bill was the ultimate team player and he had no desire to win the statistical battle -- he just wanted to win the game. He didn't have to play better than Wilt; he just had to make Chamberlain play at a lower level than normal.
Bill wasn't recruited heavily from high school and finally went to the University of San Francisco, whose team had never achieved national success before Russell. He led that team to two NCAA championships in his junior and senior years.
From there he played in the Olympics and helped win the gold medal for the United States in basketball. He was captain of this gold medal team. Bill Russell was so talented that if he hadn't been on the basketball team he probably could have medaled in the high jump.
After the Olympics, Bill Russell joined the Boston Celtics part-way through the season. At this point Boston had never won anything, but through Bill's tremendous will to win, the Celtics won the NBA Championship 11 times out of the next 13 years including that first year; Bill Russell acted as player coach the last two seasons.
Bill Russell was certainly a gifted athlete, but his will to win was legendary. I've heard Tommy Heinsohn, Celtic Hall of Famer, say that Russell had such a desire to win and he was so anxious to win that he threw up before almost every big game. If the team heard Bill throwing up, they knew they would okay that night.
With two NCAA Championships, an Olympic gold medal, and 11 NBA Championships, Bill Russell is, I believe, the Most Valuable Player (MVP) that ever existed in basketball. Bill's attitude was unbelievable and he had to not only overcome other basketball players, but also overcome something much harder.
Bill Russell faced an America where racism always seemed to raise its ugly head. In his junior year of college he probably was the best basketball player in the universe, yet he wasn't named Player of the Year in northern California. One time, he and his African-American teammates were not allowed in a hotel in Oklahoma City during a 1954 All College Tournament and had to camp out at a college dorm in the area.
Although his racism problems didn't stop when he went to Boston, I believe that it got better as the years went on. Bill Russell was on a team that started five African-American players for the first time in NBA history. He was also the first African-American coach in the NBA. In 2010, President Obama awarded Bill Russell the Medal of Freedom -- the highest award allowed for civilians in the United States.
Attitude is everything!
Think about it. Would you want to hire someone who is always complaining about everything or would you rather hire someone who always takes the glass "half full" attitude?
I know that no matter how much attitude I have, I will never be able to dunk a basketball. But, I can be a great teammate if I put the effort into practicing, into playing defense and into studying the plays.
You, too, might have some problems in your life, but you can make yourself a much better employee with the right attitude.