Hindsight and Regret.
I'm writing about the Cavs, so that could mean any number of things. Myself, the franchise, this piece, that team, it all fits. So we will be more specific.
Following the footsteps of Jim Chones, Campy was undervalued in this exercise. Like last time, I profess my guilt. Ranking the greatest players in a franchises history is an incredibly subjective process, and you can look at it through any lens you choose. Are they great for a statistical reason? Talent? Emotion? In the dictionary, greatness is defined as being of ability, quality, or eminence considerably above the normal or average. The fact that you can arrive at so many different outcomes based on one career kind of typifies basketball. There is no one right way to do things, and even with numbers in front of us, we all came to a different conclusion.
Once again, I found myself in the lurch, Campy Russell was the 8th overall pick of the Cavs in 1974, when my mother was still writing notes about The Beatles or Meatloaf of whatever people liked to her High School classmates. Like last time, my initial instinct was just to ask him. I arranged an interview, but due to my flight to Boston getting canceled, and my subsequent re-route to a later one, we just could not make the times work.
It started with confusion.
" I remember I was in my apartment. I knew the draft was going off that day. My roommates and I were just sitting around, kind of waiting. (It wasn’t televised or anything. Like I said, not the spectacle it is today.) I just got a phone call from the Detroit news. He said, ‘Based on what we just heard, Cleveland Cavaliers just drafted you. And I said, ‘Cleveland Cavaliers?’ [laughing] ‘Where’s Cleveland at?’ "
Russell, a gregarious 6'8 Small Forward, made a quick impact with the Cavaliers. After a decent rookie season, he got a lot of time and was the Cavaliers second leading scorer in the Miracle of Richfield season. A really well rounded player, he was best known for his ability to get to the rim, but could kill teams in any phase of the game. Like any other piece about that team, it's time for our keywords: Hindsight, and regret. Mostly regret. What if Jim Chones stays healthy? What if it's the seasoned All-Star Russell, a younger Nate Thurmond, and a healthy Austin Carr trying to lead them through the injury, and not a second year player, a banged up vet, and the shell of a legend doing so? Like most other Cavs teams that had their shot, they were bad luck and bad timing away.
Some other quick notes:
- Russell, played at the University of Michigan (sucks), and was the 8th pick of the Cavs in 1974.
- Joined by brothers Frank and Walker, Russell was one of three family members in the NBA. He had by far the best and longest tenure.
- In 1970, Campy was named the "Most Outstanding High School Player in the Nation. "
- Russell made one All Star team, in 1979, averaging near 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists per game.
- After spending two years with the Knicks, 1980 -1982, Russell made a brief comeback with the Cavs in 1984, playing in 3 games.
Today, you can find Campy hosting the Cavs pre and post game shows, or roaming the sidelines on occasion for interviews. There is even a rumor you can find family members of Cavs Rank participants like [NAME REDACTED] asking him about his ability to play his old teammates one on one today.
Unfortunate timing, and circumstances out of my control..... even Cavs Rank can come up Cavs.