NBA legend Bill Russell, who turned 86 on Wednesday, was the foundation of the Boston Celtics dynasty in the 1960s and revolutionized NBA's defence. Russell played 13 seasons for the Celtics and is a five-time NBA MVP, 12-time All-Star and has 11 rings. He scored 14522 points and 21,620 rebounds with an average of 22.5 points per game.
Though one cannot ignore Bill Russell's individual achievements, he was a complete advocate of team play. He bought Boston Celtics 11 championships during his 13-year career. Russell was drafted during the 1956 NBA Draft. However, he started playing with the team in December that year as he was a part of the US Olympics team, which won gold and Bill Russell had the league-best record. During the 1956 Draft, Boston Celtics coach and general manager Red Auerbach wanted Russell on the Celtics roster. However, as they had finished second-place the previous season, they had a later pick. Auerbach later cracked a deal with the St. Louis Hawks and traded Ed Macauley for Bill Russell, gaining three Hall of Famers during one single draft – Russell, Tom Heinsohn and KC Jones.
With Bill Russell on their roster, the Boston Celtics posted their best league record and won the NBA championship. The following season, the team continued to perform well, winning 14 back-to-back games at the start. The Celtics, who were known for their offensive play, showcased new defensive skills in just half the season Bill Russell played. During the NBA 1957-58 season, Bill Russell was voted as the NBA MVP.
Bill Russell was also the NBA rebounding leader four times. In the NBA 1958-59 season, he averaged at 23 rebounds per game. In the postseason, he increased the average to 27.7 rebounds per game. The Celtics won the Championship that year and set a record with 29.5 RPG in the series. Following the season, Boston Celtics and Russell went on to win 8 consecutive championships.
When Bill Russell’s jersey was retired by the Celtics, the arena was empty. Russell later called Boston a ‘flea market of racism’ in his memoir. For him, it would be important that his teammates be there, but not the fans. According to Bill Russell, having fans cheer him would go against the experience he had in the same city.
Russell was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975. He even coached the Seattle Supersonics and Sacramento Kings for a few years. He even wrote books with professional writers like 1979's Second Wind.