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The legacy of NBA great Bill Russell

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Bill Russell
The legacy of NBA great Bill Russell. Photo/ Nevada Sports Net.
  • Bill Russell is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He holds the record for the most NBA Championships, eleven. 
  • Bill was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 and the FIBA Hall of Fame the following year.
  • The Professional Basketball Writers Association of America named him the ‘Greatest Player in the History of the NBA’. 

The NBA is lucky to have had a player like Bill Russell, as there is no doubt he is one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

Bill Russell holds the record for the most NBA Championships, eleven. Some of his achievements include five-time Most Valuable Player awards, twelve-time NBA All-Star, NBA All-Star Game MVP and three-time All-NBA First Team.

The Boston Celtics legend was also an eight-time All-NBA Second Team, NBA All-Defensive Team and four-time NBA rebounding champion.

Bill Russell

Bill Russell is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Photo/ Nevada Sports Net.

And if that’s not enough, the legend, who passed away in July 2022, also won an Olympic gold medal and the NCAA championship.

In 1975, Russell was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 and the FIBA Hall of Fame the following year.

The legendary center is one of the only four players to be selected into the NBA 25th Anniversary Team, NBA 35th Anniversary Team and be named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history. He was also in the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.

His No. 6 jersey is retired by Bolton Celtics, San Francisco Dons and all NBA teams. Bill received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

The Professional Basketball Writers Association of America named Bill Russell as the ‘Greatest Player in the History of the NBA’.

The NBA announced in February 2009 that the NBA Finals MVP Award would be renamed the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. This was in honour of Russell winning eleven NBA Championships.

Bill Russell, one of the most decorated athletes in North American sports history, takes credit for the defensive play we now see in the NBA.

The consummate defensive center excelled at playing man-to-man defence, grabbing defensive rebounds and blocking shots.

Early Life 

Bill Russell was born in West Monroe, Louisiana, on February 12, 1934. Growing up, he faced a lot of racism because all Southern towns were very segregated during those days.

Russell spent his childhood living in a series of public housing projects as his family was poor. Young Bill was a good runner and jumper who did not understand the game of basketball during his time at Herbert Hoover Junior High School.

He began taking basketball seriously as a freshman at McClymonds High School. He was already one of the best basketball players when he joined the University of San Francisco (USF).

The future NBA star was the main center in USF’s basketball team and soon became a force in college basketball. Russell led USF to NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956. He was the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 1955.

Career 

Due to Bill Russel’s defensive toughness and rebounding prowess, the Boston Celtics picked him in during the 1956 NBA Draft.

Russell was part of the United States national basketball team that competed at the 1956 Summer Olympics and won Gold.

He began playing for the Boston Celtics in December during the 1956-57 season. Russell managed 16 points, 31 rebounds and seven blocks in his first NBA playoff match. His side won the game 108-89.

Bill Russel’s efforts were rewarded at the end of the 1957-58 season as he was named the NBA Most Valuable Player.

He continued with his impressive performance and was voted NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the second time at the end of the 1962-63 season.

Bill Russell became the first African-American NBA coach after accepting the role of a player-coach before the 1966-67 season.

The NBA star soon started getting slower, and his figures began declining. As a result, he decided to end his playing career at the age of 35.

After retiring as a player, Bill had stints as head coach of the Seattle Supersonics and the Sacramento Kings. Bill was the first head coach to lead the Seattle Supersonics into the playoffs.

Bill Russell

Bill Russell. Photo/ Celtics Wire – USA Today.

Abraham Odhiambo is an avid sports fan who loves to write about football, boxing and wrestling. He's a big supporter of Manchester United. He's pursuing a bachelor's degree in Communication and Media at Egerton University.

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