William Felton “Bill” Russell : Basketball
William Felton “Bill” Russell (born February 12, 1934), born in Monroe, Louisiana, is a retired professional basketball player as the center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1956 to 1969. Russell was the first African-American player to achieve superstar status in the NBA.
Greatest Sporting Achievements
He earned a University of San Francisco scholarship after trying out as a walk-in in the fall of 1952.
Before his professional career, he played for University of San Francisco winning two consecutive NCAA Championships in 1955 and 1956 where he scored 20.7 points per game and 20.3 rebounds.
During the 1956 Summer Olympics, he won a gold medal where he was also the captain of the U.S. national basketball team. That was the end of his amateur career.
Russell was a five-time NBA Most Valuable Player, a twelve-time All-Star and was the star player of his team winning eleven NBA championship in a span of his entire professional basketball year. He holds the record for the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league. He had 21,620 rebounds throughout his career with over 11 NBA finals and winning 10 of them.
Just after Wilt Chamberlain, he is known to be one of the two NBA players to have grabbed more than 50 rebounds in a game.
Over the course of his professional basketball career, he scored a total of 14,522 career points.
Russell was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. He was one of the selected players in the NBA 25th Anniversary Team in 1971 and the NBA 35th Anniversary Team in 1980. He was also named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996. He was also added to the FIBA Hall of Fame. The NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy was named the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in honor of Russell.
Why Was He So Good?
Bill Russell was known for his block shots that had never been seen before and ground-breaking method of man-to-man defense play. His abilities to rebound were astounding. He managed to steer the Boston Celtics to 11 titles. Russell also provided effective passing.
“The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot.”
What You May Not Know
- Bill Russell is left handed.
- Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach retired after their eighth consecutive title. Instead of playing for another team, Russell became the player and at the same time, the coach, of the Celtics winning them two more titles in 1968 and 1969.
- Russell became the first African-American NBA coach. He started coaching after his retirement in 1969 but his team lost so the last time he coached was the Sacramento Kings and led as the president of their basketball operations in the 80s.
- During his post-player career, he took up Basketball and worked as an uncomfortable color commentator.
Of all his accomplishment, he said that he is most proud of being a father of three including the noted attorney and television commentator Karen Russell.
- In 2011, President Barack Obama awarded Russell with a Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is America’s highest civilian honor.
Was he a legend?
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