More on the Celtics' sense of humor from Second Wind Memoirs of an Opinionated Man by Bill Russell.
In order to communicate humorously with a teammate in the heat of a game, without words, you have to know him very well. The love of humor on the Celtics helped sharpen our knowledge of each other. I remember once when Bob Cousy threw me a pass under the basket near the end of a game. I was wide open, and all I had to do was dunk the ball. But a number of things instantly went through my mind. The opposing center was Walter Dukes, who loved to hit me in the head after every shot I took. I could count on it; Walter would slap me so hard on the side of my head that I'd shed tears involuntarily. He didn't mind getting caught. And I thought about how we were ten points ahead with less than a minute to go, and then I decided, "Nope, it's not worth it," so I simply just dribbled the ball out from under the basket. Cousy was out there laughing. He knew when he passed me the ball that I wasn't going to take the dunk. He knew that I'd figure that we had the game well enough put away so that I wouldn't take my beating. He and I laughed so hard that we lost the ball, but not the game. Cousy was always doing crazy things when he figured the pressure was off. He'd bring the ball up the court looking serious and call a nonexistent play - Twenty-two! - and turn his back after passing the ball to Sharman, who'd be dumbfounded. There were only a few players in the NBA whose humor was so natural that they could play well under pressure while constantly chuckling on the court. Of these, the jolliest one was Walt Bellamy, a center whose career overlapped with mine. He was a childlike bear of a man ans was always scowling, grumbling and talking to himself with this little grin underneath that nobody could resist. During games, he referred to himself in the third person, as "Good ol' Walt Bellamy." If a referee called him for being in the lane too long, he would get this exaggerated look of mock pain on his face and keep chattering: "Oh, why did they call three seconds on good ol' Walt Bellamy? Mister Russell and Mister Chamberlain -why they can homestead in there and they don't get called for it. No, sir. But not good ol' Walt Bellamy. All he's got to do is look in there. Just abuse him. Call anything on good ol' Walt Bellamy." By this time, he'd be at the other end of the court, laughing to himself. Sam Jones was a master at laughing while playing his guts out. His humor was always therapy for us, and Red knew it. Sam wasn't a great theoretician of the game, but he was slick. He'd hustle people out on the court all night and have a high time doing it. He always had something going with Wilt, for instance. Against Philadelphia he'd dribble the ball around the top of the key toward the corner, and I'd set a good pick against the man guarding him. When that happened, Wilt was supposed to pick Sam up. Sam would stop about eighteen feet out, and in a falsetto voice would call, "You better come on out here, Wilt Chamberlain!" Only Sam could sound that sassy, and he always added Wilt's last name, like a mother scolding her child. Wilt would be near the basket, about a step and a half from blocking Sam's shot, but in the next instant Sam would yell, "Too late!" as he let fly a bank shot - which always went in. He'd do it over and over. Sometimes he'd yell two or three times before shooting, if he were open long enough. Finally Wilt would be irritated enough to come out after him, and the instant Wilt lunged to block the shot, Sam would flip the ball to me and I'd dunk it. Which also irritated Wilt, because he hated to see me dunk. All the Celtics enjoyed this play by play immensely, but I had mixed feelings. I know it was good for us to have Sam teasing Wilt, because it's always wise to get your opponent distracted. On the other hand, as a general rule I didn't like Wilt to get riled up, so once I made the supreme mistake of asking Sam to lay off. It was a confession of worry, which was like declaring open hunting season. "What's the matter, Russ?" Sam would ask. "You ain't afraid of him are you?" This got around to the other players and every chance they got they'd ask me if I was afraid of Wilt. On my bad nights, KC would make matters worse. KC harassed all the centers in the league. He was a master at it. He'd run by an opposing center while the teams were switching at the end of a quarter and, without a referee or a fan in the whole place noticing it, would step on the guy's foot as he went by. Or he'd grab his jersey - anything to irritate the man. KC picked on centers because he thought it was important to distract them, and because they were usually too slow to retaliate. KC always seemed to step on Wilt's feet a few extra times whenever I showed the slightest worry about his mood, and then he and Sam would laugh themselves silly at my distress. They were right, of course, because I had no business worrying about Wilt's attitude.