Bill Russell

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Basketball player
Bill Russell
Bill Russell dribbling Boston Celtics.jpg
Player information
Full name William Felton Russell
birthday 12th February 1934 (age 86)
place of birth Monroe , Louisiana , United States
size 208 cm
Weight 98 kg
position center
college San Francisco
NBA draft 1956 , 2nd pick, St. Louis Hawks
Clubs as active
1956-1969 Boston CelticsUnited StatesUnited States
Clubs as coaches
1966–1969 Boston Celtics 1973–1977 Seattle SuperSonics 1987–1988 Sacramento KingsUnited StatesUnited States
United StatesUnited States
United StatesUnited States

William Felton "Bill" Russell (born February 12, 1934 in Monroe , Louisiana ) is a retired American basketball player . Throughout his professional career from 1956 to 1969, he played for the Boston Celtics in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and won eleven championships during that time. He holds the record for most championship titles by an NBA player to this day. In addition, he was voted five times in his career as the most valuable player in the league - and twelve times in the NBA All-Star Game . In 1975 Russell was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame .

Youth, College and Olympia

Russell was born in Monroe , Louisiana. However, his family left the South due to racial hostility when Russell was eight years old. He grew up in Oakland, California .

He attended the University of San Francisco (USF) from 1952 to 1956 . Along with teammate KC Jones , with whom he later played at the Celtics, Russell led the university's basketball team to 56 straight wins.

Russell during his college years

This outstanding achievement was crowned with two NCAA Division I basketball championships in 1955 and 1956. Russell was named Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Championship Tournament in 1955 . During his time at the USF, he averaged 20.7 points and 20.3 rebounds per game. At the 1956 Olympics he was the captain of the US team that won gold for the US.

Bill Russell was also a very good athlete. In 1956 he took eleventh place on the world's annual best list in the high jump with a height of 2.06 meters.

Playing career in the NBA


After his college career, Bill Russell moved to the NBA in 1956 . Actually, he was the second pick by the St. Louis Hawks drafted Service. Coach Red Auerbach managed to get him to Boston in exchange for Ed Macauley , a six-time All-Star and Cliff Hagan , a future Hall of Famer and multiple All-Star at the time. The exchange paid off for the Celtics after just one season, as Russell won his first championship with the Celtics as a rookie . Boston won the NBA Finals against the St. Louis Hawks , which they defeated after seven games.

In his first three seasons in the NBA, Russell was the best rebounder in the league. In his debut season, he averaged 19.6 rebounds per game. In his second season (1957/58) he scored 22.7 rebounds and 16.6 points per game. This made Russell the first player in league history to get more than 20 rebounds per game in one season. He also succeeded in this feat in the nine following seasons. In the 1957/58 season Russell was also voted for the first time the most valuable player of the season (MVP). He reached the NBA Finals again in 1958 with the Celtics, but lost them for the first and only time against the Hawks, who were able to take revenge for the final defeat of the previous year.

In the 1958/59 season he again set a new league record with 23 rebounds per game. This season he was also elected to the All-NBA First Team for the first time . In the 1959 playoffs , Russell got an average of 27.7 rebounds per game. In the finals, which the Celtics won 4-0 against the Los Angeles Lakers , he achieved a new final record with an average of 29.5 rebounds per game.


The 1959 title marked the beginning of a record series that was unique in North American professional team sport. Between 1959 and 1966, Russell's Celtics won the championship eight times in a row, an achievement unmatched to this day. The entire 1960s is commonly called the Celtics Dynasty today. The central importance that Russell had in this dynasty is shown, among other things, by the fact that between 1961 and 1963 he was voted the most valuable player in the league three times in a row. He received these awards even though his big rival in the center position, Wilt Chamberlain , had significantly better values ​​in all important statistics. For example, Russell was elected MVP in 1962, although he only scored 18.9 points on average, while Chamberlain reached the record mark of 50.4 points on average in the same season. But Russell was the one of the two who was the more important player for the success of his team. Don Nelson said of Bill Russell's importance for the Celtics in the Boston Herald : “There are two types of superstars. One makes himself look good at the expense of the other guys on the floor. But there's another type who makes the players around him look better than they are, and that's the type Russell was ".

The 1959/60 season was his best to date for Russell with 18.2 points and 24 rebounds. In 1960 he met with his team not only in the regular season, but also in the playoffs for the first time on his long-term rivals in the center position, on Wilt Chamberlain and his Philadelphia Warriors . Although Chamberlain scored 81 points more than Russell in the six games, the Celtics won the series 4-2 wins. The finals won the Celtics against the Hawks with 4-3 victories, with Russell contributing 22 points and 35 rebounds to the victory in the decisive seventh game.

In the 1963/64 season, Russell brought 24.7 rebounds per game for the fourth time, the most rebounds of all NBA players. He achieved this success for the first time since Wilt Chamberlain played in the NBA. In the 1964/65 season Russell succeeded for the last time, scoring 24.1 rebounds per game, to be the best rebounder in the league. In the same season, he was also elected MVP for the fifth and final time.

Russell duels with Wilt Chamberlain (1966)


After winning the eighth championship in a row, Red Auerbach resigned as coach in 1966 and Russell became player- coach of the Celtics. He was the first African American head coach of an NBA team. The first season in his new role was relatively disappointing for the Celtics, who are used to victory. The 1966/67 season was the first and only in which Russell did not reach the NBA Finals with the Celtics. He and his team lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in the Conference finals. The following season, the Celtics were able to retaliate with the 76ers after a series that went over seven games. They then won the finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. Russell was this year by the magazine Sports Illustrated for Athlete of the Year chosen.

Also in his last season (1968/69) Russell reached the NBA finals with his team. This performance is remarkable because the aging Celtics had had a very poor regular season and struggled to reach the playoffs. The Celtics won the title after a series of seven highly competitive games against the Los Angeles Lakers , who had previously strengthened with Wilt Chamberlain. After winning his eleventh championship in 1969, Russell ended his career as a player.

Coaching career

From 1973 to 1977 Russell was the trainer and general manager of Seattle SuperSonics . In the 1987/88 season he was the head coach of the Sacramento Kings .

Appreciation of his performance

Bill Russell (2011)

To this day, Russell is considered one of the best players, and above all one of the best defenders, in NBA history. Russell's qualities as a defender set new standards in the league. He was the first NBA player to dominate a game on the defensive. Further characteristics that emphasize Russell's special importance for the Celtics are his will to win and his clutch-play (achieving maximum performance in decisive moments). These two qualities were crucial to the success of the Celtics. His former team-mate Bob Cousy said of him: “His will to win made the difference” ( His will to win made the difference ) .

Russell stood with the Celtics ten times in a crucial seventh and one time in a decisive fifth playoff game and won all eleven games with the Celtics. In these crucial games he almost always showed a particularly strong performance. In the decisive games he got an average of 18 points and 29.45 rebounds. This average is better than his playoff career average of 16.2 points and 24.9 rebounds per game.

Russell was voted MVP five times during his career as an NBA player (1958, 1961–1963, 1965). He was also called up three times in the All-NBA First Team (1959, 1963 and 1965) and in 1969 in the first NBA All-Defensive Team in league history. In addition, the center was nominated twelve times for the NBA All-Star Game . His regular season career averages are 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists and per game. Russell thus has, after Wilt Chamberlain, the second highest career rebound cut of all NBA players.

Russell and Chamberlain are the only players to date to have scored more than 20,000 rebounds in their careers. Russell brought a total of five times the most rebounds per game in a season (1957-1959,1964,1965). Four times he achieved the most rebounds in absolute terms (1957, 1959, 1964, 1965) in one season. He also got at least 1,000 rebounds for twelve consecutive seasons. In addition, Russell had the most rebounds of any NBA player in the playoffs (4,104) and the most playoff rebounds on average per game (24.9). Furthermore, Russell has the second most rebounds in a game (51) and the most rebounds in one half (32).

On May 28, 1975, Russell was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame . Five years later, journalists voted him the best player of all time. In 1996, on the occasion of the league's 50th birthday, the NBA voted him one of the 50 best NBA players of all time . On February 14, 2009, during All Star Weekend, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that the NBA Finals MVP Award will be named after Bill Russell. On September 12, 2007, Russell was also inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame . In 2011 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.

Awards & Achievements

See also

Web links

Commons : Bill Russell  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  2. ^ The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame :: Bill Russell. In: Retrieved May 7, 2020 .
  3. ^ A b NCAA Tournament History. In: Retrieved June 15, 2017 .
  4. a b c d e f g h i j k Bill Russell. In: Retrieved November 26, 2012 .
  5. ^ William Felton Russell. In: Retrieved November 26, 2012 .
  6. Bob Ryan: Timeless Excellence. In: Retrieved November 26, 2012 .
  7. ^ All-Time Playoffs Individual Career Leaders. In: Retrieved November 27, 2012 .
  8. ^ All Playoff Leaders: By total rebounds per game. In: Retrieved November 27, 2012 .
  9. ^ The Finals MVP to Receive Bill Russell MVP Award. (No longer available online.) In: February 14, 2009, archived from the original on February 17, 2009 ; accessed on November 26, 2012 (English).
  10. ^ Barack Obama awards Bill Russell Medal of Freedom. In: Eye on Basketball Blog at February 15, 2011, accessed November 26, 2012 .