Bill Russell

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This article is about the basketball player. Bill Russell_sentence_0

For other people with the same name or similar name, see William Russell (disambiguation). Bill Russell_sentence_1

William Felton Russell (born February 12, 1934) is an American former professional basketball player who played center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1956 to 1969. Bill Russell_sentence_2

A five-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a 12-time All-Star, he was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty that won eleven NBA championships during his 13-year career. Bill Russell_sentence_3

Russell and Henri Richard of the National Hockey League are tied for the record of the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league. Bill Russell_sentence_4

Russell led the San Francisco Dons to two consecutive NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956, and he captained the gold-medal winning U.S. Bill Russell_sentence_5 national basketball team at the 1956 Summer Olympics. Bill Russell_sentence_6

Even though Russell never averaged more than 19.0 points per game or shot as much as 47 percent in any season in an offense-friendly era, many regard him to be among the greatest basketball players of all time. Bill Russell_sentence_7

He is 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) tall, with a 7 ft 4 in (2.24 m) wingspan. Bill Russell_sentence_8

His shot-blocking and man-to-man defense were major reasons for the Celtics' domination of the NBA during his career. Bill Russell_sentence_9

Russell was equally notable for his rebounding abilities. Bill Russell_sentence_10

He led the NBA in rebounds four times, had a dozen consecutive seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds, and remains second all-time in both total rebounds and rebounds per game. Bill Russell_sentence_11

He is one of just two NBA players (the other being prominent rival Wilt Chamberlain) to have grabbed more than 50 rebounds in a game. Bill Russell_sentence_12

Russell played in the wake of black pioneers Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, and Sweetwater Clifton, and he was the first black player to achieve superstar status in the NBA. Bill Russell_sentence_13

He also served a three-season (1966–69) stint as player-coach for the Celtics, becoming the first black coach in North American professional sports and the first to win a championship. Bill Russell_sentence_14

In 2011, Barack Obama awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his accomplishments on the court and in the Civil Rights Movement. Bill Russell_sentence_15

Russell is one of seven players in history to win an NCAA Championship, an NBA Championship, and an Olympic gold medal. Bill Russell_sentence_16

He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Bill Russell_sentence_17

He was selected into the NBA 25th Anniversary Team in 1971 and the NBA 35th Anniversary Team in 1980, and named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, one of only four players to receive all three honors. Bill Russell_sentence_18

In 2007, he was enshrined in the FIBA Hall of Fame. Bill Russell_sentence_19

In Russell's honor the NBA renamed the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy in 2009: it is now the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. Bill Russell_sentence_20

Early years Bill Russell_section_0

Family and personal life Bill Russell_section_1

Russell was born in 1934 to Charles Russell and Katie Russell in Monroe, Louisiana. Bill Russell_sentence_21

Like almost all Southern towns and cities of that time, Monroe was very segregated, and the Russells often struggled with racism in their daily lives. Bill Russell_sentence_22

Russell's father was once refused service at a gas station until the staff had taken care of all the white customers first. Bill Russell_sentence_23

When he attempted to leave and find a different station, the attendant stuck a shotgun in his face and threatened to kill him if he didn't stay and wait his turn. Bill Russell_sentence_24

In another incident, Russell's mother was walking outside in a fancy dress when a white policeman accosted her. Bill Russell_sentence_25

He told her to go home and remove the dress, which he described as "white woman's clothing". Bill Russell_sentence_26

During World War II, large numbers of blacks were moving to the West to look for work there. Bill Russell_sentence_27

When Russell was eight years old, his father moved the family out of Louisiana and settled in Oakland, California. Bill Russell_sentence_28

While there, they fell into poverty, and Russell spent his childhood living in a series of public housing projects. Bill Russell_sentence_29

Charles Russell was described as a "stern, hard man" who initially worked in a paper factory as a janitor, which was a typical "Negro Job"—low paid and not intellectually challenging, as sports journalist John Taylor commented. Bill Russell_sentence_30

When World War II broke out, the elder Russell became a truck driver. Bill Russell_sentence_31

Russell was closer to his mother Katie than to his father, and he received a major emotional blow when she suddenly died when he was 12 years old. Bill Russell_sentence_32

His father gave up his trucking job and became a steelworker to be closer to his semi-orphaned children. Bill Russell_sentence_33

Russell has stated that his father became his childhood hero, later followed up by Minneapolis Lakers superstar George Mikan, whom he met when he was in high school. Bill Russell_sentence_34

Mikan, in turn, would say of Russell the college basketball player, "Let's face it, he's the best ever. Bill Russell_sentence_35

He's so good, he scares you." Bill Russell_sentence_36

Initial exposure to basketball Bill Russell_section_2

In his early years, Russell struggled to develop his skills as a basketball player. Bill Russell_sentence_37

Although Russell was a good runner and jumper and had large hands, he simply did not understand the game and was cut from the team in junior high school. Bill Russell_sentence_38

As a freshman at McClymonds High School in Oakland, Russell was almost cut again. Bill Russell_sentence_39

However, coach George Powles saw Russell's raw athletic potential and encouraged him to work on his fundamentals. Bill Russell_sentence_40

Since Russell's previous experiences with white authority figures were often negative, he was reassured to receive warm words from his coach. Bill Russell_sentence_41

He worked hard and used the benefits of a growth spurt to become a decent basketball player, but it was not until his junior and senior years that he began to excel, winning back to back high school state championships. Bill Russell_sentence_42

Russell soon became noted for his unusual style of defense. Bill Russell_sentence_43

He later recalled, "To play good defense ... it was told back then that you had to stay flatfooted at all times to react quickly. Bill Russell_sentence_44

When I started to jump to make defensive plays and to block shots, I was initially corrected, but I stuck with it, and it paid off." Bill Russell_sentence_45

Russell, in an autobiographical account, notes while on a California High School All-Stars tour, he became obsessed with studying and memorizing other players' moves (e.g., footwork such as which foot they moved first on which play) as preparation for defending against them, which included practicing in front of a mirror at night. Bill Russell_sentence_46

Russell further described himself as an avid reader of Dell Magazines' 1950s sports publications, which he used to scout opponents' moves for the purpose of defending against them. Bill Russell_sentence_47

Future Baseball Hall-of-Famer Frank Robinson was one of Russell's high school basketball teammates. Bill Russell_sentence_48

College years Bill Russell_section_3

University of San Francisco Bill Russell_section_4

Russell was ignored by college recruiters and received not one offer until recruiter Hal DeJulio from the University of San Francisco (USF) watched him play in a high school game. Bill Russell_sentence_49

DeJulio was unimpressed by Russell's meager scoring and "atrocious fundamentals", but sensed that the young center had an extraordinary instinct for the game, especially in the clutch. Bill Russell_sentence_50

When DeJulio offered Russell a scholarship, he eagerly accepted. Bill Russell_sentence_51

Sports journalist John Taylor described it as a watershed event in Russell's life, because Russell realized that basketball was his chance to escape poverty and racism. Bill Russell_sentence_52

As a consequence, Russell swore to make the best of it. Bill Russell_sentence_53

At USF, Russell became the new starting center for coach Phil Woolpert. Bill Russell_sentence_54

Woolpert emphasized defense and deliberate half-court play, which favored Russell's exceptional defensive skills. Bill Russell_sentence_55

Woolpert's choice of how to deploy his players was unaffected by their skin color. Bill Russell_sentence_56

In 1954, he became the first coach of a major college basketball squad to start three black players: Russell, K. Bill Russell_sentence_57 C. Jones and Hal Perry. Bill Russell_sentence_58

In his USF years, Russell took advantage of his relative lack of bulk to develop a unique defensive style: instead of purely guarding the opposing center, he used his quickness and speed to play help defense against opposing forwards and aggressively challenge their shots. Bill Russell_sentence_59

Combining the stature and shot-blocking skills of a center with the foot speed of a guard, Russell became the centerpiece of a USF team that soon became a force in college basketball. Bill Russell_sentence_60

After USF kept Holy Cross star Tom Heinsohn scoreless in an entire half, Sports Illustrated wrote, "If [Russell] ever learns to hit the basket, they're going to have to rewrite the rules." Bill Russell_sentence_61

The NCAA did in fact rewrite rules in response to Russell's dominant play; the lane was widened for his junior year. Bill Russell_sentence_62

After he graduated, the NCAA rules committee instituted a second new rule to counter the play of big men like Russell; basket interference was now prohibited. Bill Russell_sentence_63

The NCAA pays close attention to college basketball superstars. Bill Russell_sentence_64

Over the years, other rule changes have been made to counter the dominant play of big men. Bill Russell_sentence_65

Two examples are goaltending in response to George Mikan (1945) and prohibiting the dunk shot due to Lew Alcindor (1967), although the latter rule was later repealed. Bill Russell_sentence_66

However, the games were often difficult for the USF squad. Bill Russell_sentence_67

Russell and his black teammates became targets of racist jeers, particularly on the road. Bill Russell_sentence_68

In one incident, hotels in Oklahoma City refused to admit Russell and his black teammates while they were in town for the 1954 All-College Tournament. Bill Russell_sentence_69

In protest, the whole team decided to camp out in a closed college dorm, which was later called an important bonding experience for the group. Bill Russell_sentence_70

Decades later, Russell explained that his experiences hardened him against abuse of all kinds. Bill Russell_sentence_71

"I never permitted myself to be a victim", he said. Bill Russell_sentence_72

Racism also shaped his lifelong paradigm as a team player. Bill Russell_sentence_73

"At that time", he has said, "it was never acceptable that a black player was the best. Bill Russell_sentence_74

That did not happen ... My junior year in college, I had what I thought was the one of the best college seasons ever. Bill Russell_sentence_75

We won 28 out of 29 games. Bill Russell_sentence_76

We won the National Championship. Bill Russell_sentence_77

I was the [Most Valuable Player] at the Final Four. Bill Russell_sentence_78

I was first team All American. Bill Russell_sentence_79

I averaged over 20 points and over 20 rebounds, and I was the only guy in college blocking shots. Bill Russell_sentence_80

So after the season was over, they had a Northern California banquet, and they picked another center as Player of the Year in Northern California. Bill Russell_sentence_81

Well, that let me know that if I were to accept these as the final judges of my career I would die a bitter old man." Bill Russell_sentence_82

So he made a conscious decision, he said, to put the team first and foremost, and not worry about individual achievements. Bill Russell_sentence_83

On the hardwood, his experiences were far more pleasant. Bill Russell_sentence_84

Russell led USF to NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956, including a string of 55 consecutive victories. Bill Russell_sentence_85

He became known for his strong defense and shot-blocking skills, once denying 13 shots in a game. Bill Russell_sentence_86

UCLA coach John Wooden called Russell "the greatest defensive man I've ever seen". Bill Russell_sentence_87

During his college career, Russell averaged 20.7 points per game and 20.3 rebounds per game. Bill Russell_sentence_88

Track and field Bill Russell_section_5

Besides basketball, Russell represented USF in track and field events. Bill Russell_sentence_89

Russell was a standout in the high jump, ranking the seventh-best high-jumper in the world in 1956 (his graduation year) according to Track & Field News (this despite not competing in Olympic high-jump competition that year). Bill Russell_sentence_90

That year, Russell won high jump titles at the Central California AAU meet, the Pacific AAU meet, and the West Coast Relays. Bill Russell_sentence_91

One of his highest jumps occurred at the West Coast Relays, where he achieved a mark of 6 feet 9 ⁄4 inches (2.06 m); at the meet Russell tied Charlie Dumas, who would later in the year win gold in the Melbourne Olympics for the United States and become the first person to high-jump 7 feet (2.13 m). Bill Russell_sentence_92

Like fellow world-class high-jumpers of that era, Russell did not use the Fosbury Flop high-jump technique with which all high jump world records after 1978 have been set. Bill Russell_sentence_93

Russell also competed in the 440 yards (402.3 m) race, which he could complete in 49.6 seconds. Bill Russell_sentence_94

Professional basketball plans Bill Russell_section_6

The Harlem Globetrotters invited Russell to join their exhibition basketball squad. Bill Russell_sentence_95

Russell, who was sensitive to any racial prejudice, was enraged by the fact that owner Abe Saperstein would only discuss the matter with Woolpert. Bill Russell_sentence_96

While Saperstein spoke to Woolpert in a meeting, Globetrotters assistant coach Harry Hanna tried to entertain Russell with jokes. Bill Russell_sentence_97

Russell, however, was livid after this snub and declined the offer. Bill Russell_sentence_98

He reasoned that if Saperstein was too smart to speak with him, then he was too smart to play for Saperstein. Bill Russell_sentence_99

Instead, Russell made himself eligible for the 1956 NBA draft. Bill Russell_sentence_100

1956 NBA draft Bill Russell_section_7

In the 1956 NBA draft, Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach set his sights on Russell, thinking his defensive toughness and rebounding prowess were the missing pieces the Celtics needed. Bill Russell_sentence_101

In retrospect, Auerbach's thoughts were unorthodox. Bill Russell_sentence_102

In that period, centers and forwards were defined by their offensive output, and their ability to play defense was secondary. Bill Russell_sentence_103

Boston's chances of getting Russell seemed slim, however. Bill Russell_sentence_104

Because the Celtics had finished second in the previous season and the worst teams had the highest draft picks, the Celtics had slipped too low in the draft order to pick Russell. Bill Russell_sentence_105

In addition, Auerbach had already used his territorial pick to acquire talented forward Tom Heinsohn. Bill Russell_sentence_106

Auerbach, however, knew that the Rochester Royals, who owned the first draft pick, already had a strong rebounder in Maurice Stokes, were looking for an outside shooting guard, and were unwilling to pay Russell the $25,000 signing bonus he requested. Bill Russell_sentence_107

Celtics owner Walter A. Bill Russell_sentence_108 Brown contacted Rochester owner Les Harrison, and received an assurance that the Royals could not afford Russell, and would instead draft Sihugo Green. Bill Russell_sentence_109

Auerbach later claimed that Brown offered Harrison guaranteed performances of the Ice Capades if they did not draft Russell; it is difficult to verify or disprove this, but it is clear that the Royals underrated Russell. Bill Russell_sentence_110

The St. Bill Russell_sentence_111 Louis Hawks, who owned the second pick, drafted Russell, but were vying for Celtics center Ed Macauley, a six-time All-Star who had roots in St. Bill Russell_sentence_112 Louis. Bill Russell_sentence_113

Auerbach agreed to trade Macauley, who had previously asked to be traded to St. Louis in order to be with his sick son, if the Hawks gave up Russell. Bill Russell_sentence_114

The owner of St Louis called Auerbach later and demanded more in the trade. Bill Russell_sentence_115

Not only did he want Macauley, who was the Celtics premier player at the time, he wanted Cliff Hagan, who had been serving in the military for three years and had not yet played for the Celtics. Bill Russell_sentence_116

After much debate, Auerbach agreed to give up Hagan, and the Hawks made the trade. Bill Russell_sentence_117

During that same draft, Boston also drafted guard K. Bill Russell_sentence_118 C. Jones, Russell's former USF teammate. Bill Russell_sentence_119

Thus, in one night, the Celtics managed to draft three future Hall of Famers: Russell, Jones and Heinsohn. Bill Russell_sentence_120

The Russell draft-day trade was later called one of the most important trades in the history of North American sports. Bill Russell_sentence_121

1956 Olympics Bill Russell_section_8

Before his NBA rookie year, Russell was the captain of the U.S. Bill Russell_sentence_122 national basketball team that competed at the 1956 Summer Olympics, which would be held in November and December in Melbourne, Australia in the Southern Hemisphere. Bill Russell_sentence_123

Avery Brundage, head of the International Olympic Committee, argued that Russell had already signed a professional contract and thus was no longer an amateur, but Russell prevailed. Bill Russell_sentence_124

He had the option to skip the tournament and play a full season for the Celtics, but he was determined to play in the Olympics. Bill Russell_sentence_125

He later commented that he would have participated in the high jump if he had been snubbed by the basketball team. Bill Russell_sentence_126

Under head coach Gerald Tucker, Russell helped the national team win the gold medal in Melbourne, by defeating the Soviet Union 89–55 in the final game. Bill Russell_sentence_127

The United States dominated the tournament, winning by an average of 53.5 points per game. Bill Russell_sentence_128

Russell led the team in scoring, averaging 14.1 points per game for the competition. Bill Russell_sentence_129

His former USF and future Celtics teammate K. Bill Russell_sentence_130 C. Jones, joined him on the Olympic squad and contributed 10.9 points per game. Bill Russell_sentence_131

Boston Celtics Bill Russell_section_9

1956–59 Bill Russell_section_10

Due to Russell's Olympic commitment, he could not join the Celtics for the 1956–57 season until December. Bill Russell_sentence_132

After rejoining the Celtics, Russell played 48 games, averaging 14.7 points per game and a league-high 19.6 rebounds per game. Bill Russell_sentence_133

During this season, the Celtics featured five future Hall-of-Famers: center Russell, forwards Heinsohn and Frank Ramsey, and guards Bill Sharman and Bob Cousy. Bill Russell_sentence_134

(K.C. Bill Russell_sentence_135

Jones did not play for the Celtics until 1958 because of military service.) Bill Russell_sentence_136

Russell's first Celtics game came on Dec. 22, 1956, against the St. Louis Hawks, led by star forward Bob Pettit, who would come to hold several all-time scoring records. Bill Russell_sentence_137

Auerbach assigned Russell to shut down the Hawks' main scorer, and the rookie impressed the Boston crowd with his man-to-man defense and shot-blocking. Bill Russell_sentence_138

In previous years, the Celtics had been a high-scoring team, but lacked the defensive presence needed to close out tight games. Bill Russell_sentence_139

However, with the added defensive presence of Russell, the Celtics had laid the foundation for a dynasty. Bill Russell_sentence_140

The team utilized a strong defensive approach to the game, forcing opposing teams to commit many turnovers, which led to many easy points on fast breaks. Bill Russell_sentence_141

Russell was an elite help defender who allowed the Celtics to play the so-called "Hey, Bill" defense: whenever a Celtic requested additional defensive help, he would shout "Hey, Bill!" Bill Russell_sentence_142

Russell was so quick that he could run over for a quick double team and make it back in time if the opponents tried to find the open man. Bill Russell_sentence_143

He also became famous for his shot-blocking skills: pundits called his blocks "Wilsonburgers", referring to the Wilson NBA basketballs he "shoved back into the faces of opposing shooters". Bill Russell_sentence_144

This skill also allowed the other Celtics to play their men aggressively: if they were beaten, they knew that Russell was guarding the basket. Bill Russell_sentence_145

This approach allowed the Celtics to finish with a 44–28 regular season record, the team's second-best record since beginning play in the 1946–47 season, and guaranteed a post-season appearance. Bill Russell_sentence_146

At the same time, Russell received much negative publicity as a player. Bill Russell_sentence_147

He was notorious for his public surliness and judgmental attitude towards others. Bill Russell_sentence_148

Because Russell ignored virtually any well-wisher who approached him home or away, not to mention the vast majority of media, his autograph was among the most difficult to secure of any pro athlete of his time. Bill Russell_sentence_149

Constantly provoked by New York Knicks center Ray Felix during a game, he complained to coach Auerbach, who told him to take matters into his own hands. Bill Russell_sentence_150

After the next provocation, Russell pounded Felix to the point of unconsciousness, paid a modest $25 fine and rarely was the target of cheap fouls thereafter. Bill Russell_sentence_151

Russell had a more cordial relationship with many of his teammates with the notable exception of Heinsohn, his old rival and fellow rookie. Bill Russell_sentence_152

Heinsohn felt that Russell resented him because the former was named the 1957 NBA Rookie of the Year. Bill Russell_sentence_153

Many people thought that Russell was more important even though he had only played half the season. Bill Russell_sentence_154

Russell also ignored Heinsohn's request for an autograph on behalf of his cousin and openly said to Heinsohn that he deserved half of his $300 Rookie of the Year check. Bill Russell_sentence_155

The relationship between the two was tenuous at best. Bill Russell_sentence_156

However, despite their different ethnic backgrounds and lack of common off-court interests, his relationship with Celtics point guard and fan favorite Bob Cousy was amicable. Bill Russell_sentence_157

In Game 1 of the Eastern Division Finals, the Celtics met the Syracuse Nationals, who were led by Dolph Schayes. Bill Russell_sentence_158

In Russell's first NBA playoff game, he finished with 16 points and 31 rebounds, along with a reported seven blocks. Bill Russell_sentence_159

(At the time, blocks were not yet an officially registered statistic.) Bill Russell_sentence_160

After the Celtics' 108–89 victory, Schayes quipped, "How much does that guy make a year? Bill Russell_sentence_161

It would be to our advantage if we paid him off for five years to get away from us in the rest of this series." Bill Russell_sentence_162

The Celtics swept the Nationals in three games to earn the franchise's first appearance in the NBA Finals. Bill Russell_sentence_163

In the NBA Finals, the Celtics met the St. Louis Hawks, who were again led by Bob Pettit, as well as former Celtic Ed Macauley. Bill Russell_sentence_164

The teams split the first six games, and the tension was so high that, in Game 3, Celtics coach Auerbach punched his colleague Ben Kerner and received a $300 fine. Bill Russell_sentence_165

In the highly competitive Game 7, Russell tried his best to slow down Pettit, but it was Heinsohn who scored 37 points and kept the Celtics alive. Bill Russell_sentence_166

However, Russell contributed by completing the famous "Coleman Play". Bill Russell_sentence_167

Here, Russell ran down Hawks guard Jack Coleman, who had received an outlet pass at midcourt, and blocked his shot despite the fact that Russell had been standing at his own baseline when the ball was thrown to Coleman. Bill Russell_sentence_168

The block preserved Boston's slim 103–102 lead with 40-odd seconds left to play in regulation, saving the game for the Celtics. Bill Russell_sentence_169

In the second overtime, both teams were in serious foul trouble: Heinsohn had fouled out, and the Hawks were so depleted that they had only 7 players left. Bill Russell_sentence_170

With the Celtics leading 125–123 with one second left, the Hawks had the ball at their own baseline. Bill Russell_sentence_171

Reserve guard Alex Hannum threw a long alley oop pass to Pettit, and Pettit's tip-in rolled indecisively on the rim for several seconds before rolling out again. Bill Russell_sentence_172

The Celtics won, earning their first NBA Championship. Bill Russell_sentence_173

At the start of the 1957–58 season, the Celtics won 14 straight games, and continued to succeed. Bill Russell_sentence_174

Russell averaged 16.6 points per game and a league-record average of 22.7 rebounds per game. Bill Russell_sentence_175

An interesting phenomenon began that year: Russell was voted the NBA Most Valuable Player, but only named to the All-NBA Second Team. Bill Russell_sentence_176

This would occur repeatedly throughout his career. Bill Russell_sentence_177

The NBA reasoned that other centers were better all-round players than Russell, but no player was more valuable to his team. Bill Russell_sentence_178

The Celtics won 49 games and easily made the first berth in the 1958 NBA Playoffs, and made the 1958 NBA Finals against their familiar rivals, the St. Louis Hawks. Bill Russell_sentence_179

The teams split the first two games, but then Russell went down with a foot injury in Game 3 and only returned for Game 6. Bill Russell_sentence_180

The Celtics surprisingly won Game 4, but the Hawks prevailed in Games 5 and 6, with Pettit scoring 50 points in the deciding Game 6. Bill Russell_sentence_181

In the following 1958–59 season, Russell continued his strong play, averaging 16.7 points per game and 23.0 rebounds per game in the regular season. Bill Russell_sentence_182

The Celtics broke a league record by winning 52 games, and Russell's strong performance once again helped lead the Celtics through the post-season, as they returned to the NBA Finals. Bill Russell_sentence_183

In the 1959 NBA Finals, the Celtics recaptured the NBA title, sweeping the Minneapolis Lakers 4–0. Bill Russell_sentence_184

Lakers head coach John Kundla praised Russell, stating, "We don't fear the Celtics without Bill Russell. Bill Russell_sentence_185

Take him out and we can beat them ... Bill Russell_sentence_186

He's the guy who whipped us psychologically." Bill Russell_sentence_187

1959–66: Eight Straight Championships Bill Russell_section_11

In the 1959–60 season, the NBA witnessed the debut of legendary 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) Philadelphia Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain, who averaged a record 37.6 points per game in his rookie year. Bill Russell_sentence_188

On November 7, 1959, Russell's Celtics hosted Chamberlain's Warriors, and pundits called the matchup between the best offensive and defensive centers "The Big Collision" and "Battle of the Titans". Bill Russell_sentence_189

Both men awed onlookers with "nakedly awesome athleticism", and while Chamberlain outscored Russell 30 to 22, the Celtics won 115–106, and the match was called a "new beginning of basketball." Bill Russell_sentence_190

The matchup between Russell and Chamberlain became one of basketball's greatest rivalries. Bill Russell_sentence_191

On February 5, 1960, Russell grabbed 51 rebounds in a 124-100 win over the Syracuse Nationals. Bill Russell_sentence_192

It was the record for most rebounds in a single game until Chamberlain grabbed 55 rebounds. Bill Russell_sentence_193

In that season, Russell's Celtics won a record 59 regular season games (including a then-record tying 17 game win streak) and met Chamberlain's Warriors in the Eastern Division Finals. Bill Russell_sentence_194

Chamberlain outscored Russell by 81 points in the series, but the Celtics walked off with a 4–2 series win. Bill Russell_sentence_195

In the 1960 Finals, the Celtics outlasted the Hawks 4–3 and won their third championship in four years. Bill Russell_sentence_196

Russell grabbed an NBA Finals-record 40 rebounds in Game 2, and added 22 points and 35 rebounds in the deciding Game 7, a 122–103 victory for Boston. Bill Russell_sentence_197

In the 1960–61 season, Russell averaged 16.9 points and 23.9 rebounds per game, leading his team to a regular season mark of 57–22. Bill Russell_sentence_198

The Celtics earned another post-season appearance, where they defeated the Syracuse Nationals 4–1 in the Eastern Division Finals. Bill Russell_sentence_199

The Celtics made good use of the fact that the Los Angeles Lakers had exhausted St. Louis in a long seven-game Western Conference Finals, and the Celtics convincingly won in five games. Bill Russell_sentence_200

In the following season, Russell scored a career-high 18.9 points per game, accompanied by 23.6 rebounds per game. Bill Russell_sentence_201

While his rival Chamberlain had a record-breaking season of 50.4 points per game and a 100-point game, the Celtics became the first team to win 60 games in a season, and Russell was voted as the NBA's Most Valuable Player. Bill Russell_sentence_202

In the post-season, the Celtics met the Philadelphia Warriors with Chamberlain. Bill Russell_sentence_203

Russell did his best to slow down the 50-points-per-game scoring Warriors center; in the pivotal Game 7, Russell managed to hold Chamberlain to only 22 points (28 below his season average) while scoring 19 himself. Bill Russell_sentence_204

The game was tied with two seconds left when Sam Jones sank a clutch shot that won the Celtics the series. Bill Russell_sentence_205

In the 1962 NBA Finals, the Celtics met the Los Angeles Lakers with star forward Elgin Baylor and star guard Jerry West. Bill Russell_sentence_206

The teams split the first six games. Bill Russell_sentence_207

In Game 6, Russell recorded 19 points, 24 rebounds and 10 assists as the Celtics won 119-105. Bill Russell_sentence_208

Game 7 was tied one second before the end of regular time when Lakers guard Rod Hundley faked a shot and instead passed out to Frank Selvy, who missed an open eight-foot last-second shot that would have won L.A. the title. Bill Russell_sentence_209

Though the game was tied, Russell had the daunting task of defending against Baylor with little frontline help, as the three best Celtics forwards, Loscutoff, Heinsohn and Tom Sanders, had fouled out. Bill Russell_sentence_210

In overtime, the fourth forward, Frank Ramsey, fouled out trying to guard Elgin Baylor, so Russell was completely robbed of his usual four-men wing rotation. Bill Russell_sentence_211

But Russell and little-used fifth forward Gene Guarilia successfully pressured Baylor into missed shots. Bill Russell_sentence_212

Russell finished with a clutch performance, scoring 30 points and tying his own NBA Finals record with 40 rebounds in a 110–107 overtime win. Bill Russell_sentence_213

The Celtics lost playmaker Bob Cousy to retirement after the 1962–63 season, but they drafted John Havlicek. Bill Russell_sentence_214

Once again, the Celtics were powered by Russell, who averaged 16.8 points and 23.6 rebounds per game, won his fourth regular-season MVP title, and earned MVP honors at the 1963 NBA All-Star Game following his 19-point, 24-rebound performance for the East. Bill Russell_sentence_215

Russell recorded his first career triple-double after putting up 17 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists in a 129-123 win over the Knicks. Bill Russell_sentence_216

At that time, he became the fourth player in Celtics history to have a triple-double, joining Ed Macauley, Bob Cousy and K.C. Bill Russell_sentence_217

Jones. Bill Russell_sentence_218

The Celtics reached the 1963 NBA Finals, where they again defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, this time in six games. Bill Russell_sentence_219

In the following 1963–64 season, the Celtics posted a league-best 58–22 record in the regular season. Bill Russell_sentence_220

Russell scored 15.0 ppg and grabbed a career-high 24.7 rebounds per game, leading the NBA in rebounds for the first time since Chamberlain entered the league. Bill Russell_sentence_221

Boston defeated the Cincinnati Royals 4–1 to earn another NBA Finals appearance, and then won against Chamberlain's newly relocated San Francisco Warriors 4–1. Bill Russell_sentence_222

It was their sixth consecutive and seventh title in Russell's eighth year, a streak unreached in any U.S. professional sports league. Bill Russell_sentence_223

Russell later called the Celtics' defense the best of all time. Bill Russell_sentence_224

Russell again excelled during the 1964–65 season. Bill Russell_sentence_225

The Celtics won a league-record 62 games, and Russell averaged 14.1 points and 24.1 rebounds per game, winning his second consecutive rebounding title and his fifth MVP award. Bill Russell_sentence_226

In the 1965 NBA Playoffs, the Celtics played the Eastern Division Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers, who had recently traded for Wilt Chamberlain. Bill Russell_sentence_227

Russell held Chamberlain to a pair of field goals in the first three quarters of Game 3. Bill Russell_sentence_228

In Game 5, Russell contributed 28 rebounds, 10 blocks, seven assists and six steals. Bill Russell_sentence_229

However, that playoff series ended in a dramatic Game 7. Bill Russell_sentence_230

Five seconds before the end, the Sixers were trailing 110–109, but Russell turned over the ball. Bill Russell_sentence_231

However, when the Sixers' Hall-of-Fame guard Hal Greer inbounded, John Havlicek stole the ball, causing Celtics commentator Johnny Most to scream: "Havlicek stole the ball! Bill Russell_sentence_232

It's all over! Bill Russell_sentence_233

Johnny Havlicek stole the ball!" Bill Russell_sentence_234

After the Division Finals, the Celtics had an easier time in the NBA Finals, winning 4–1 against the Los Angeles Lakers with Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. Bill Russell_sentence_235

In the following 1965–66 season, the Celtics won their eighth consecutive title. Bill Russell_sentence_236

Russell's team again beat Chamberlain's Philadelphia 76ers 4 games to 1 in the Division Finals, proceeding to win the NBA Finals in a tight seven-game showdown against the Los Angeles Lakers, with Russell scoring 25 points and grabbing 32 rebounds in a 95–93 win in the deciding seventh game. Bill Russell_sentence_237

During the season, Russell contributed 12.9 points and 22.8 rebounds per game. Bill Russell_sentence_238

This was the first time in seven years that he failed to average at least 23 rebounds a game. Bill Russell_sentence_239

1966–69 Bill Russell_section_12

Celtics coach Red Auerbach retired before the 1966–67 season. Bill Russell_sentence_240

He had initially wanted his old player Frank Ramsey to coach the Celtics, but Ramsey was too occupied running his three lucrative nursing homes. Bill Russell_sentence_241

His second choice was Bob Cousy, who declined the invitation, stating that he did not want to coach his former teammates. Bill Russell_sentence_242

Third choice Tom Heinsohn also said no, because he did not think he could handle the often surly Russell. Bill Russell_sentence_243

However, Heinsohn proposed Russell himself as a player-coach, and when Auerbach asked his center, he said yes. Bill Russell_sentence_244

On April 16, 1966, Bill Russell agreed to become head coach of the Boston Celtics; a public announcement was made two days later. Bill Russell_sentence_245

Russell thus became the first black head coach in NBA history and commented to journalists: "I wasn't offered the job because I am a Negro, I was offered it because Red figured I could do it." Bill Russell_sentence_246

The Celtics' championship streak ended at eight in his first full season as head coach when Wilt Chamberlain's Philadelphia 76ers won a record-breaking 68 regular season games and beat the Celtics 4–1 in the 1967 Eastern Finals. Bill Russell_sentence_247

The Sixers simply outpaced the Celtics when they shredded the famed Boston defense by scoring 140 points in the clinching Game 5 win. Bill Russell_sentence_248

Russell acknowledged the first real loss of his career (he had been injured in 1958 when the Celtics lost the NBA Finals) by visiting Chamberlain in the locker room, shaking his hand and saying, "Great". Bill Russell_sentence_249

However, the game still ended on a high note for Russell. Bill Russell_sentence_250

After the loss, he led his grandfather through the Celtics locker rooms, and the two saw white Celtics player John Havlicek taking a shower next to his black teammate Sam Jones and discussing the game. Bill Russell_sentence_251

Suddenly, Jake Russell broke down crying. Bill Russell_sentence_252

Asked by his grandson what was wrong, his grandfather replied how proud he was of him, being coach of an organization in which blacks and whites coexisted in harmony. Bill Russell_sentence_253

In Russell's penultimate season of 1967–68, his numbers slowly declined, but at age 34, he still tallied 12.5 points per game and 18.6 rebounds per game (the latter good for the third highest average in the league). Bill Russell_sentence_254

In the Eastern Division Finals, the 76ers had the better record than the Celtics and were slightly favored. Bill Russell_sentence_255

But then, national tragedy struck on April 4, with the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. With eight of the ten starting players on Sixers and Celtics being black, both teams were in deep shock, and there were calls to cancel the series. Bill Russell_sentence_256

In a game called as "unreal" and "devoid of emotion", the Sixers lost 127–118 on April 5. Bill Russell_sentence_257

In Game 2, Philadelphia evened the series with a 115–106 win, and in Games 3 and 4, the Sixers won, with Chamberlain suspiciously often defended by Celtics backup center Wayne Embry, causing the press to speculate Russell was worn down. Bill Russell_sentence_258

Prior to Game 5, the Celtics seemed dead: no NBA team had ever come back from a 3–1 deficit. Bill Russell_sentence_259

However, the Celtics rallied back, winning Game 5 122–104 and Game 6 114–106, powered by a spirited Havlicek and helped by a terrible Sixers shooting slump. Bill Russell_sentence_260

In Game 7, 15,202 stunned Philadelphia fans witnessed a historic 100–96 defeat, making it the first time in NBA history a team lost a series after leading 3–1. Bill Russell_sentence_261

Russell limited Chamberlain to only two shot attempts in the second half. Bill Russell_sentence_262

Despite this, the Celtics were leading only 97–95 with 34 seconds left when Russell closed out the game with several consecutive clutch plays. Bill Russell_sentence_263

He made a free throw, blocked a shot by Sixers player Chet Walker, grabbed a rebound off a miss by Sixers player Hal Greer, and finally passed the ball to teammate Sam Jones, who scored to clinch the win. Bill Russell_sentence_264

Boston then beat the Los Angeles Lakers 4–2 in the NBA Finals, giving Russell his tenth title in 12 years. Bill Russell_sentence_265

For his efforts Russell was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. Bill Russell_sentence_266

After losing for the fifth straight time against Russell and his Celtics, Hall-of-Fame Lakers guard Jerry West stated, "If I had a choice of any basketball player in the league, my No.1 choice has to be Bill Russell. Bill Russell_sentence_267

Bill Russell never ceases to amaze me." Bill Russell_sentence_268

However, Russell seemed to reach a breaking point during the 1968–69 season. Bill Russell_sentence_269

He was shocked by the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, disillusioned by the Vietnam War, and weary from his increasingly stale marriage to his wife Rose; the couple later divorced. Bill Russell_sentence_270

He was convinced that the U.S. was a corrupt nation and that he was wasting his time playing something as superficial as basketball. Bill Russell_sentence_271

He was 15 pounds overweight, skipped mandatory NBA coach meetings and was generally lacking energy: after a New York Knicks game, he complained of intense pain and was diagnosed with acute exhaustion. Bill Russell_sentence_272

Russell pulled himself together and put up 9.9 points and 19.3 rebounds per game, but the aging Celtics stumbled through the regular season. Bill Russell_sentence_273

Their 48–34 record was the team's worst since 1955–56, and they entered the playoffs as only the fourth-seeded team in the East. Bill Russell_sentence_274

In the playoffs, however, Russell and his Celtics achieved upsets over the Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks to earn a meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. Bill Russell_sentence_275

L.A. now featured new recruit Wilt Chamberlain next to perennial stars Baylor and West, and were heavily favored. Bill Russell_sentence_276

In the first two games, Russell ordered not to double-team West, who used the freedom to score 53 and 41 points in the Game 1 and 2 Laker wins. Bill Russell_sentence_277

Russell then ordered to double-team West, and Boston won Game 3. Bill Russell_sentence_278

In Game 4, the Celtics were trailing by one point with seven seconds left and the Lakers having the ball, but then Baylor stepped out of bounds, and in the last play, Sam Jones used a triple screen by Bailey Howell, Larry Siegfried and Havlicek and hit a buzzer beater which equalized the series. Bill Russell_sentence_279

The teams split the next two games, so it all came down to Game 7 in L.A., where Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke angered and motivated the Celtics by putting "proceedings of Lakers victory ceremony" on the game leaflets. Bill Russell_sentence_280

Russell used a copy as extra motivation and told his team to play a running game, because in that case, not the better, but the more determined team was going to win. Bill Russell_sentence_281

The Celtics were ahead by nine points with five minutes remaining; in addition, West was heavily limping after a Game 5 thigh injury and Chamberlain had left the game with an injured leg. Bill Russell_sentence_282

West then hit one basket after the other and cut the lead to one, and Chamberlain asked to return to the game. Bill Russell_sentence_283

However, Lakers coach Bill van Breda Kolff kept Chamberlain on the bench until the end of the game, saying later that he wanted to stay with the lineup responsible for the comeback. Bill Russell_sentence_284

The Celtics held on for a 108–106 victory, and Russell claimed his eleventh championship in 13 years. Bill Russell_sentence_285

At age 35, Russell contributed 21 rebounds in his last NBA game. Bill Russell_sentence_286

After the game, Russell went over to the distraught West (who had scored 42 points and was named the only NBA Finals MVP in history from the losing team), clasped his hand and tried to soothe him. Bill Russell_sentence_287

Days later, 30,000 enthusiastic Celtics fans cheered their returning heroes, but Russell was not there: the man who said he owed the public nothing ended his career and cut all ties to the Celtics. Bill Russell_sentence_288

It was so surprising that even Red Auerbach was blindsided, and as a consequence, he made the "mistake" of drafting guard Jo Jo White instead of a center. Bill Russell_sentence_289

Although White became a standout Celtics player, the Celtics lacked an All-Star center, went just 34–48 in the next season and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1950. Bill Russell_sentence_290

In Boston, both fans and journalists felt betrayed, because Russell left the Celtics without a coach and a center and sold his retirement story for $10,000 to Sports Illustrated. Bill Russell_sentence_291

Russell was accused of selling out the future of the franchise for a month of his salary. Bill Russell_sentence_292

NBA career statistics Bill Russell_section_13

Regular season Bill Russell_section_14

Bill Russell_table_general_0

YearBill Russell_header_cell_0_0_0 TeamBill Russell_header_cell_0_0_1 GPBill Russell_header_cell_0_0_2 MPGBill Russell_header_cell_0_0_3 FG%Bill Russell_header_cell_0_0_4 FT%Bill Russell_header_cell_0_0_5 RPGBill Russell_header_cell_0_0_6 APGBill Russell_header_cell_0_0_7 PPGBill Russell_header_cell_0_0_8
1956–57Bill Russell_cell_0_1_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_0_1_1 48Bill Russell_cell_0_1_2 35.3Bill Russell_cell_0_1_3 .427Bill Russell_cell_0_1_4 .492Bill Russell_cell_0_1_5 19.6*Bill Russell_cell_0_1_6 1.8Bill Russell_cell_0_1_7 14.7Bill Russell_cell_0_1_8
1957–58Bill Russell_cell_0_2_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_0_2_1 69Bill Russell_cell_0_2_2 38.3Bill Russell_cell_0_2_3 .442Bill Russell_cell_0_2_4 .519Bill Russell_cell_0_2_5 22.7*Bill Russell_cell_0_2_6 2.9Bill Russell_cell_0_2_7 16.6Bill Russell_cell_0_2_8
1958–59Bill Russell_cell_0_3_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_0_3_1 70Bill Russell_cell_0_3_2 42.6*Bill Russell_cell_0_3_3 .457Bill Russell_cell_0_3_4 .598Bill Russell_cell_0_3_5 23.0*Bill Russell_cell_0_3_6 3.2Bill Russell_cell_0_3_7 16.7Bill Russell_cell_0_3_8
1959–60Bill Russell_cell_0_4_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_0_4_1 74Bill Russell_cell_0_4_2 42.5Bill Russell_cell_0_4_3 .467Bill Russell_cell_0_4_4 .612Bill Russell_cell_0_4_5 24.0Bill Russell_cell_0_4_6 3.7Bill Russell_cell_0_4_7 18.2Bill Russell_cell_0_4_8
1960–61Bill Russell_cell_0_5_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_0_5_1 78Bill Russell_cell_0_5_2 44.3Bill Russell_cell_0_5_3 .426Bill Russell_cell_0_5_4 .550Bill Russell_cell_0_5_5 23.9Bill Russell_cell_0_5_6 3.4Bill Russell_cell_0_5_7 16.9Bill Russell_cell_0_5_8
1961–62Bill Russell_cell_0_6_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_0_6_1 76Bill Russell_cell_0_6_2 45.2Bill Russell_cell_0_6_3 .457Bill Russell_cell_0_6_4 .575Bill Russell_cell_0_6_5 23.6Bill Russell_cell_0_6_6 4.5Bill Russell_cell_0_6_7 18.9Bill Russell_cell_0_6_8
1962–63Bill Russell_cell_0_7_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_0_7_1 78Bill Russell_cell_0_7_2 44.9Bill Russell_cell_0_7_3 .432Bill Russell_cell_0_7_4 .555Bill Russell_cell_0_7_5 23.6Bill Russell_cell_0_7_6 4.5Bill Russell_cell_0_7_7 16.8Bill Russell_cell_0_7_8
1963–64Bill Russell_cell_0_8_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_0_8_1 78Bill Russell_cell_0_8_2 44.6Bill Russell_cell_0_8_3 .433Bill Russell_cell_0_8_4 .550Bill Russell_cell_0_8_5 24.7*Bill Russell_cell_0_8_6 4.7Bill Russell_cell_0_8_7 15.0Bill Russell_cell_0_8_8
1964–65Bill Russell_cell_0_9_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_0_9_1 78Bill Russell_cell_0_9_2 44.4Bill Russell_cell_0_9_3 .438Bill Russell_cell_0_9_4 .573Bill Russell_cell_0_9_5 24.1*Bill Russell_cell_0_9_6 5.3Bill Russell_cell_0_9_7 14.1Bill Russell_cell_0_9_8
1965–66Bill Russell_cell_0_10_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_0_10_1 78Bill Russell_cell_0_10_2 43.4Bill Russell_cell_0_10_3 .415Bill Russell_cell_0_10_4 .551Bill Russell_cell_0_10_5 22.8Bill Russell_cell_0_10_6 4.8Bill Russell_cell_0_10_7 12.9Bill Russell_cell_0_10_8
1966–67Bill Russell_cell_0_11_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_0_11_1 81Bill Russell_cell_0_11_2 40.7Bill Russell_cell_0_11_3 .454Bill Russell_cell_0_11_4 .610Bill Russell_cell_0_11_5 21.0Bill Russell_cell_0_11_6 5.8Bill Russell_cell_0_11_7 13.3Bill Russell_cell_0_11_8
1967–68Bill Russell_cell_0_12_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_0_12_1 78Bill Russell_cell_0_12_2 37.9Bill Russell_cell_0_12_3 .425Bill Russell_cell_0_12_4 .537Bill Russell_cell_0_12_5 18.6Bill Russell_cell_0_12_6 4.6Bill Russell_cell_0_12_7 12.5Bill Russell_cell_0_12_8
1968–69Bill Russell_cell_0_13_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_0_13_1 77Bill Russell_cell_0_13_2 42.7Bill Russell_cell_0_13_3 .433Bill Russell_cell_0_13_4 .526Bill Russell_cell_0_13_5 19.3Bill Russell_cell_0_13_6 4.9Bill Russell_cell_0_13_7 9.9Bill Russell_cell_0_13_8
CareerBill Russell_cell_0_14_0 963Bill Russell_cell_0_14_2 42.3Bill Russell_cell_0_14_3 .440Bill Russell_cell_0_14_4 .561Bill Russell_cell_0_14_5 22.5Bill Russell_cell_0_14_6 4.3Bill Russell_cell_0_14_7 15.1Bill Russell_cell_0_14_8

Playoffs Bill Russell_section_15

Bill Russell_table_general_1

YearBill Russell_header_cell_1_0_0 TeamBill Russell_header_cell_1_0_1 GPBill Russell_header_cell_1_0_2 MPGBill Russell_header_cell_1_0_3 FG%Bill Russell_header_cell_1_0_4 FT%Bill Russell_header_cell_1_0_5 RPGBill Russell_header_cell_1_0_6 APGBill Russell_header_cell_1_0_7 PPGBill Russell_header_cell_1_0_8
1957Bill Russell_cell_1_1_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_1_1_1 10Bill Russell_cell_1_1_2 40.9Bill Russell_cell_1_1_3 .365Bill Russell_cell_1_1_4 .508Bill Russell_cell_1_1_5 24.4Bill Russell_cell_1_1_6 3.2Bill Russell_cell_1_1_7 13.9Bill Russell_cell_1_1_8
1958Bill Russell_cell_1_2_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_1_2_1 9Bill Russell_cell_1_2_2 39.4Bill Russell_cell_1_2_3 .361Bill Russell_cell_1_2_4 .606Bill Russell_cell_1_2_5 24.6Bill Russell_cell_1_2_6 2.7Bill Russell_cell_1_2_7 15.1Bill Russell_cell_1_2_8
1959Bill Russell_cell_1_3_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_1_3_1 11Bill Russell_cell_1_3_2 45.1Bill Russell_cell_1_3_3 .409Bill Russell_cell_1_3_4 .612Bill Russell_cell_1_3_5 27.7Bill Russell_cell_1_3_6 3.6Bill Russell_cell_1_3_7 15.5Bill Russell_cell_1_3_8
1960Bill Russell_cell_1_4_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_1_4_1 13Bill Russell_cell_1_4_2 44.0Bill Russell_cell_1_4_3 .456Bill Russell_cell_1_4_4 .707Bill Russell_cell_1_4_5 25.8Bill Russell_cell_1_4_6 2.9Bill Russell_cell_1_4_7 18.5Bill Russell_cell_1_4_8
1961Bill Russell_cell_1_5_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_1_5_1 10Bill Russell_cell_1_5_2 46.2Bill Russell_cell_1_5_3 .427Bill Russell_cell_1_5_4 .523Bill Russell_cell_1_5_5 29.9Bill Russell_cell_1_5_6 4.8Bill Russell_cell_1_5_7 19.1Bill Russell_cell_1_5_8
1962Bill Russell_cell_1_6_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_1_6_1 14Bill Russell_cell_1_6_2 48.0Bill Russell_cell_1_6_3 .458Bill Russell_cell_1_6_4 .726Bill Russell_cell_1_6_5 26.4Bill Russell_cell_1_6_6 5.0Bill Russell_cell_1_6_7 22.4Bill Russell_cell_1_6_8
1963Bill Russell_cell_1_7_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_1_7_1 13Bill Russell_cell_1_7_2 47.5Bill Russell_cell_1_7_3 .453Bill Russell_cell_1_7_4 .661Bill Russell_cell_1_7_5 25.1Bill Russell_cell_1_7_6 5.1Bill Russell_cell_1_7_7 20.3Bill Russell_cell_1_7_8
1964Bill Russell_cell_1_8_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_1_8_1 10Bill Russell_cell_1_8_2 45.1Bill Russell_cell_1_8_3 .356Bill Russell_cell_1_8_4 .552Bill Russell_cell_1_8_5 27.2Bill Russell_cell_1_8_6 4.4Bill Russell_cell_1_8_7 13.1Bill Russell_cell_1_8_8
1965Bill Russell_cell_1_9_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_1_9_1 12Bill Russell_cell_1_9_2 46.8Bill Russell_cell_1_9_3 .527Bill Russell_cell_1_9_4 .526Bill Russell_cell_1_9_5 25.2Bill Russell_cell_1_9_6 6.3Bill Russell_cell_1_9_7 16.5Bill Russell_cell_1_9_8
1966Bill Russell_cell_1_10_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_1_10_1 17Bill Russell_cell_1_10_2 47.9Bill Russell_cell_1_10_3 .475Bill Russell_cell_1_10_4 .618Bill Russell_cell_1_10_5 25.2Bill Russell_cell_1_10_6 5.0Bill Russell_cell_1_10_7 19.1Bill Russell_cell_1_10_8
1967Bill Russell_cell_1_11_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_1_11_1 9Bill Russell_cell_1_11_2 43.3Bill Russell_cell_1_11_3 .360Bill Russell_cell_1_11_4 .635Bill Russell_cell_1_11_5 22.0Bill Russell_cell_1_11_6 5.6Bill Russell_cell_1_11_7 10.6Bill Russell_cell_1_11_8
1968Bill Russell_cell_1_12_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_1_12_1 19Bill Russell_cell_1_12_2 45.7Bill Russell_cell_1_12_3 .409Bill Russell_cell_1_12_4 .585Bill Russell_cell_1_12_5 22.8Bill Russell_cell_1_12_6 5.2Bill Russell_cell_1_12_7 14.4Bill Russell_cell_1_12_8
1969Bill Russell_cell_1_13_0 BostonBill Russell_cell_1_13_1 18Bill Russell_cell_1_13_2 46.1Bill Russell_cell_1_13_3 .423Bill Russell_cell_1_13_4 .506Bill Russell_cell_1_13_5 20.5Bill Russell_cell_1_13_6 5.4Bill Russell_cell_1_13_7 10.8Bill Russell_cell_1_13_8
CareerBill Russell_cell_1_14_0 165Bill Russell_cell_1_14_2 45.4Bill Russell_cell_1_14_3 .430Bill Russell_cell_1_14_4 .603Bill Russell_cell_1_14_5 24.9Bill Russell_cell_1_14_6 4.7Bill Russell_cell_1_14_7 16.2Bill Russell_cell_1_14_8

Post-playing career Bill Russell_section_16

Russell's No. Bill Russell_sentence_293

6 jersey was retired by the Celtics on March 12, 1972, Russell had worn the same number 6 at the University of San Francisco and for the 1956 USA Olympic Team. Bill Russell_sentence_294

He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975. Bill Russell_sentence_295

Russell, who had a difficult relationship with the media, did not attend either ceremony. Bill Russell_sentence_296

After retiring as a player, Russell had stints as head coach of the Seattle SuperSonics (1973–1977) and Sacramento Kings (1987–1988). Bill Russell_sentence_297

His time as a non-player coach was lackluster; although he led the struggling SuperSonics into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, Russell's defensive, team-oriented Celtics mindset did not mesh well with the team, and he left in 1977 with a 162–166 record. Bill Russell_sentence_298

Russell's stint with the Kings was considerably shorter, his last assignment ending when the Kings went 17–41 to begin the 1987–88 season. Bill Russell_sentence_299

In addition, Russell ran into financial trouble. Bill Russell_sentence_300

He had invested $250,000 in a rubber plantation in Liberia, where he had wanted to spend his retirement, but it went bankrupt. Bill Russell_sentence_301

The same fate awaited his Boston restaurant called "Slade's", after which he had to default on a $90,000 government loan to purchase the outlet. Bill Russell_sentence_302

The IRS discovered that Russell owed $34,430 in tax money and put a lien on his house. Bill Russell_sentence_303

Russell became a vegetarian, took up golf and worked as a color commentator for CBS and TBS throughout the 1970s into the mid-1980s, but he was uncomfortable as a broadcaster. Bill Russell_sentence_304

He later said, "The most successful television is done in eight-second thoughts, and the things I know about basketball, motivation, and people go deeper than that." Bill Russell_sentence_305

On November 3, 1979, Russell hosted Saturday Night Live, in which he appeared in several sports-related sketches. Bill Russell_sentence_306

Russell also wrote books, usually written as a joint project with a professional writer, including 1979's Second Wind. Bill Russell_sentence_307

In 1986 Russell played Judge Roger Ferguson in the Miami Vice episode "The Fix" (aired March 7, 1986). Bill Russell_sentence_308

Russell made few public appearances in the early 1990s, living as a near-recluse on Mercer Island near Seattle. Bill Russell_sentence_309

Following Chamberlain's death in October 1999, Russell returned to prominence at the turn of the millennium. Bill Russell_sentence_310

Russell's Rules was published in 2001, and in January 2006, he convinced Miami Heat superstar center Shaquille O'Neal to bury the hatchet with fellow NBA superstar and former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant, with whom O'Neal had a bitter public feud. Bill Russell_sentence_311

Later that year, on November 17, 2006, the two-time NCAA winner Russell was recognized for his impact on college basketball as a member of the founding class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Bill Russell_sentence_312

He was one of five, along with John Wooden, Oscar Robertson, Dean Smith and Dr. Bill Russell_sentence_313 James Naismith, selected to represent the inaugural class. Bill Russell_sentence_314

On May 20, 2007, Russell was awarded an honorary doctorate by Suffolk University, where he served as its commencement speaker. Bill Russell_sentence_315

Russell also received honorary degrees from Harvard University on June 7, 2007 and from Dartmouth College on June 14, 2009. Bill Russell_sentence_316

On June 18, 2007, Russell was inducted as a member of the founding class of the FIBA Hall of Fame. Bill Russell_sentence_317

Russell was also honored during the 2009 NBA All-Star Weekend in Phoenix. Bill Russell_sentence_318

On February 14, 2009, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award would be renamed the "Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award" in honor of the 11-time NBA champion. Bill Russell_sentence_319

The following day, during halftime of the All-Star game, Celtics captains Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen presented Russell a surprise birthday cake for his 75th birthday. Bill Russell_sentence_320

Russell attended the final game of the Finals that year to present his newly christened namesake award to its winner, Kobe Bryant. Bill Russell_sentence_321

Russell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. Bill Russell_sentence_322

Head coaching record Bill Russell_section_17

Bill Russell_table_general_2

TeamBill Russell_header_cell_2_0_0 YearBill Russell_header_cell_2_0_1 GBill Russell_header_cell_2_0_2 WBill Russell_header_cell_2_0_3 LBill Russell_header_cell_2_0_4 W–L%Bill Russell_header_cell_2_0_5 FinishBill Russell_header_cell_2_0_6 PGBill Russell_header_cell_2_0_7 PWBill Russell_header_cell_2_0_8 PLBill Russell_header_cell_2_0_9 PW–L%Bill Russell_header_cell_2_0_10 ResultBill Russell_header_cell_2_0_11
BostonBill Russell_cell_2_1_0 1966–67Bill Russell_cell_2_1_1 81Bill Russell_cell_2_1_2 60Bill Russell_cell_2_1_3 21Bill Russell_cell_2_1_4 .671Bill Russell_cell_2_1_5 2nd in EasternBill Russell_cell_2_1_6 9Bill Russell_cell_2_1_7 4Bill Russell_cell_2_1_8 5Bill Russell_cell_2_1_9 .444Bill Russell_cell_2_1_10 Lost in Div. FinalsBill Russell_cell_2_1_11
BostonBill Russell_cell_2_2_0 1967–68Bill Russell_cell_2_2_1 82Bill Russell_cell_2_2_2 54Bill Russell_cell_2_2_3 28Bill Russell_cell_2_2_4 .659Bill Russell_cell_2_2_5 2nd in EasternBill Russell_cell_2_2_6 19Bill Russell_cell_2_2_7 12Bill Russell_cell_2_2_8 7Bill Russell_cell_2_2_9 .632Bill Russell_cell_2_2_10 Won NBA ChampionshipBill Russell_cell_2_2_11
BostonBill Russell_cell_2_3_0 1968–69Bill Russell_cell_2_3_1 82Bill Russell_cell_2_3_2 48Bill Russell_cell_2_3_3 34Bill Russell_cell_2_3_4 .585Bill Russell_cell_2_3_5 4th in EasternBill Russell_cell_2_3_6 18Bill Russell_cell_2_3_7 12Bill Russell_cell_2_3_8 6Bill Russell_cell_2_3_9 .667Bill Russell_cell_2_3_10 Won NBA ChampionshipBill Russell_cell_2_3_11
SeattleBill Russell_cell_2_4_0 1973–74Bill Russell_cell_2_4_1 82Bill Russell_cell_2_4_2 36Bill Russell_cell_2_4_3 46Bill Russell_cell_2_4_4 .439Bill Russell_cell_2_4_5 3rd in PacificBill Russell_cell_2_4_6 Bill Russell_cell_2_4_7 Bill Russell_cell_2_4_8 Bill Russell_cell_2_4_9 Bill Russell_cell_2_4_10 Missed PlayoffsBill Russell_cell_2_4_11
SeattleBill Russell_cell_2_5_0 1974–75Bill Russell_cell_2_5_1 82Bill Russell_cell_2_5_2 43Bill Russell_cell_2_5_3 39Bill Russell_cell_2_5_4 .524Bill Russell_cell_2_5_5 2nd in PacificBill Russell_cell_2_5_6 9Bill Russell_cell_2_5_7 4Bill Russell_cell_2_5_8 5Bill Russell_cell_2_5_9 .444Bill Russell_cell_2_5_10 Lost in Conf. SemifinalsBill Russell_cell_2_5_11
SeattleBill Russell_cell_2_6_0 1975–76Bill Russell_cell_2_6_1 82Bill Russell_cell_2_6_2 43Bill Russell_cell_2_6_3 39Bill Russell_cell_2_6_4 .524Bill Russell_cell_2_6_5 2nd in PacificBill Russell_cell_2_6_6 6Bill Russell_cell_2_6_7 2Bill Russell_cell_2_6_8 4Bill Russell_cell_2_6_9 .333Bill Russell_cell_2_6_10 Lost in Conf. SemifinalsBill Russell_cell_2_6_11
SeattleBill Russell_cell_2_7_0 1976–77Bill Russell_cell_2_7_1 82Bill Russell_cell_2_7_2 40Bill Russell_cell_2_7_3 42Bill Russell_cell_2_7_4 .488Bill Russell_cell_2_7_5 4th in PacificBill Russell_cell_2_7_6 Bill Russell_cell_2_7_7 Bill Russell_cell_2_7_8 Bill Russell_cell_2_7_9 Bill Russell_cell_2_7_10 Missed PlayoffsBill Russell_cell_2_7_11
SacramentoBill Russell_cell_2_8_0 1987–88Bill Russell_cell_2_8_1 58Bill Russell_cell_2_8_2 17Bill Russell_cell_2_8_3 41Bill Russell_cell_2_8_4 .293Bill Russell_cell_2_8_5 (released)Bill Russell_cell_2_8_6 Bill Russell_cell_2_8_7 Bill Russell_cell_2_8_8 Bill Russell_cell_2_8_9 Bill Russell_cell_2_8_10 Bill Russell_cell_2_8_11
CareerBill Russell_cell_2_9_0 Bill Russell_cell_2_9_1 631Bill Russell_cell_2_9_2 341Bill Russell_cell_2_9_3 290Bill Russell_cell_2_9_4 .540Bill Russell_cell_2_9_5 Bill Russell_cell_2_9_6 61Bill Russell_cell_2_9_7 34Bill Russell_cell_2_9_8 27Bill Russell_cell_2_9_9 .557Bill Russell_cell_2_9_10 Bill Russell_cell_2_9_11

Accomplishments and legacy Bill Russell_section_18

Russell is one of the most successful and decorated athletes in North American sports history. Bill Russell_sentence_323

His awards and achievements include 11 NBA championships as a player with the Boston Celtics in 13 seasons (including two NBA championships as player/head coach), and he is credited with having raised defensive play in the NBA to a new level. Bill Russell_sentence_324

By winning the 1956 NCAA Championship with USF and the 1957 NBA title with the Celtics, Russell became the first of only four players in basketball history to win an NCAA championship and an NBA Championship back-to-back (the others being Henry Bibby, Magic Johnson, and Billy Thompson). Bill Russell_sentence_325

He also won two state championships in high school. Bill Russell_sentence_326

In the interim, Russell won an Olympic gold medal in 1956. Bill Russell_sentence_327

His stint as coach of the Celtics was also of historical significance, as he became the first black head coach in major U.S. professional sports when he succeeded Red Auerbach. Bill Russell_sentence_328

In his first NBA full season (1957–58), Russell became the first player in NBA history to average more than 20 rebounds per game for an entire season, a feat he accomplished 10 times in his 13 seasons. Bill Russell_sentence_329

Russell's 51 rebounds in a single game is the second-highest performance ever, trailing only Chamberlain's all-time record of 55. Bill Russell_sentence_330

He still holds the NBA record for rebounds in one half with 32 (vs. Philadelphia, on November 16, 1957). Bill Russell_sentence_331

Career-wise in rebounds, Russell ranks second to Wilt Chamberlain in regular season total (21,620) and average per game (22.5), and he led the NBA in average rebounds per game four times. Bill Russell_sentence_332

Russell is the all-time playoff leader in total (4,104) and average (24.9) rebounds per game, he grabbed 40 rebounds in three separate playoff games (twice in the NBA Finals), and he never failed to average at least 20 rebounds per game in any of his 13 post-season campaigns. Bill Russell_sentence_333

Russell also had seven regular season games with 40 or more rebounds, the NBA Finals record for highest rebound per game average (29.5 rpg, 1959) and by a rookie (22.9 rpg, 1957). Bill Russell_sentence_334

In addition, Russell holds the NBA Finals single-game record for most rebounds (40, March 29, 1960, vs. St. Louis, and April 18, 1962, vs. Los Angeles), most rebounds in a quarter (19, April 18, 1962 vs. Los Angeles), and most consecutive games with 20 or more rebounds (15 from April 9, 1960 – April 16, 1963). Bill Russell_sentence_335

He also had 51 in one game, 49 in two others, and 12 straight seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds. Bill Russell_sentence_336

Russell was known as one of the most clutch players in the NBA. Bill Russell_sentence_337

He played in 11 deciding games (10 times in Game 7s, once in a Game 5), and ended with a flawless 11–0 record. Bill Russell_sentence_338

In these 11 games, Russell averaged 18 points and 29.45 rebounds. Bill Russell_sentence_339

Russell was considered the consummate defensive center, noted for his defensive intensity, basketball IQ, and will to win. Bill Russell_sentence_340

He excelled at playing man-to-man defense, blocking shots and grabbing defensive rebounds. Bill Russell_sentence_341

Opponent Wilt Chamberlain said Russell's timing as a shot-blocker was unparalleled. Bill Russell_sentence_342

Bill Bradley—Russell's erstwhile Knicks opponent—wrote in 2009 that Russell "was the smartest player ever to play the game [of basketball]". Bill Russell_sentence_343

He also could score with putbacks and made mid-air outlet passes to point guard Bob Cousy for easy fast break points. Bill Russell_sentence_344

He also was known as a fine passer and pick-setter, featured a decent left-handed hook shot and finished strong on alley oops. Bill Russell_sentence_345

However, on offense, Russell's output was limited. Bill Russell_sentence_346

His NBA career personal averages show him to be an average scorer (15.1 points career average), a poor free throw shooter (56.1%), and average overall shooter from the field (44%, not exceptional for a center). Bill Russell_sentence_347

In his 13 years, he averaged a relatively low 13.4 field goals attempted (normally, top scorers average 20 and more), illustrating that he was never the focal point of the Celtics offense, instead focusing on his tremendous defense. Bill Russell_sentence_348

In his career, Russell won five regular season MVP awards (1959, 1961–63, 1965)—tied with Michael Jordan for second all-time behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's six awards. Bill Russell_sentence_349

He was selected three times to the All-NBA First Teams (1959, 1963, 1965) and eight Second Teams (1958, 1960–62, 1964, 1966–68), and was a 12-time NBA All-Star (1958–1969). Bill Russell_sentence_350

Russell was elected to one NBA All-Defensive First Team. Bill Russell_sentence_351

This took place during his last season (1969), and was the first season the NBA All-Defensive Teams were selected. Bill Russell_sentence_352

In 1970, The Sporting News named Russell the "Athlete of the Decade". Bill Russell_sentence_353

Russell is universally seen as one of the best NBA players ever, and was declared "Greatest Player in the History of the NBA" by the Professional Basketball Writers Association of America in 1980. Bill Russell_sentence_354

For his achievements, Russell was named "Sportsman of the Year" by Sports Illustrated in 1968. Bill Russell_sentence_355

He also made all three NBA Anniversary Teams: the NBA 25th Anniversary All-Time Team (1970), the NBA 35th Anniversary All-Time Team (1980) and the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team (1996). Bill Russell_sentence_356

Russell ranked #18 on ESPN's 50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century in 1999. Bill Russell_sentence_357

In 2009, SLAM Magazine named Russell the #3 player of all time behind Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. Bill Russell_sentence_358

Former NBA player and head coach, Don Nelson, described Russell as follows: "There are two types of superstars. Bill Russell_sentence_359

One makes himself look good at the expense of the other guys on the floor. Bill Russell_sentence_360

But there's another type who makes the players around him look better than they are, and that's the type Russell was." Bill Russell_sentence_361

On February 14, 2009, during the 2009 NBA All-Star Weekend in Phoenix, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that the NBA Finals MVP Award would be named after Bill Russell. Bill Russell_sentence_362

Russell was named as a 2010 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Bill Russell_sentence_363

On June 15, 2017, Russell was announced as the inaugural recipient of the NBA Lifetime Achievement Award. Bill Russell_sentence_364

In 2000, his longtime teammate Tommy Heinsohn described both Russell's stature and his uneasy relationship with Boston more earthily: "Look, all I know is the guy...came to Boston and won 11 championships in 13 years, and they named a bleeping tunnel after Ted Williams." Bill Russell_sentence_365

Statue Bill Russell_section_19

Boston honored Russell by erecting a statue of him on City Hall Plaza in 2013: he is depicted in-game, surrounded by 11 plinths representing the 11 championships he helped the Celtics win. Bill Russell_sentence_366

Each plinth features a key word and related quote to illustrate Russell's multiple accomplishments. Bill Russell_sentence_367

The Bill Russell Legacy Foundation, established by the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation, funded the project. Bill Russell_sentence_368

The art is by Ann Hirsch of Somerville, Massachusetts, in collaboration with Pressley Associates Landscape Architects of Boston. Bill Russell_sentence_369

The statue was unveiled on November 1, 2013, with Russell in attendance. Bill Russell_sentence_370

Two years later, during the spring of 2015, two statues of children were added, honoring Bill Russell's commitment to working with children. Bill Russell_sentence_371

These statues were modeled by a local boy from Somerville and multiple girls from the surrounding area. Bill Russell_sentence_372

West Coast Conference: The Russell Rule Bill Russell_section_20

On August 2, 2020, the West Coast Conference (WCC), which has been home to Russell's alma mater of USF since the league's formation in 1952, became the first NCAA Division I conference to adopt a conference-wide diversity hiring commitment, announcing the "Russell Rule", named after Russell and based on the NFL's Rooney Rule. Bill Russell_sentence_373

In its announcement, the WCC stated: Bill Russell_sentence_374

Personal life Bill Russell_section_21

Russell was married to his college sweetheart Rose Swisher from 1956 to 1973. Bill Russell_sentence_375

They had three children, daughter Karen Russell, the television pundit and lawyer, and sons William Jr. and Jacob. Bill Russell_sentence_376

However, the couple grew emotionally distant and divorced. Bill Russell_sentence_377

In 1977, he married Dorothy Anstett, Miss USA of 1968, but they divorced in 1980. Bill Russell_sentence_378

The relationship was shrouded in controversy because Anstett was white. Bill Russell_sentence_379

In 1996, Russell married his third wife, Marilyn Nault; their marriage lasted until her death in January 2009. Bill Russell_sentence_380

As of 2020, Russell is married to Jeannine Russell. Bill Russell_sentence_381

He has been a resident of Mercer Island, Washington for over four decades. Bill Russell_sentence_382

His older brother was the noted playwright Charlie L. Russell. Bill Russell_sentence_383

In 1959, Russell became the first NBA player to visit Africa. Bill Russell_sentence_384

Russell is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, having been initiated into its Gamma Alpha chapter while a student at University of San Francisco. Bill Russell_sentence_385

On October 16, 2013, Russell was arrested for bringing a loaded .38-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun to the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport. Bill Russell_sentence_386

Earnings Bill Russell_section_22

During his career, Russell was one of the first big earners in NBA basketball. Bill Russell_sentence_387

His 1956 rookie contract was worth $24,000, only fractionally smaller than the $25,000 of top earner Bob Cousy. Bill Russell_sentence_388

Russell never had to work part-time. Bill Russell_sentence_389

This was in contrast to other Celtics who had to work during the offseason to maintain their standard of living. Bill Russell_sentence_390

Heinsohn sold insurance, Gene Guarilia was a professional guitar player, Cousy ran a basketball camp, and Auerbach invested in plastics and a Chinese restaurant. Bill Russell_sentence_391

When Wilt Chamberlain became the first NBA player to earn $100,000 in salary in 1965, Russell went to Auerbach and demanded a $100,001 salary, which he promptly received. Bill Russell_sentence_392

For his promotion to coach, the Celtics paid Russell an annual salary of $25,000 which was in addition to his salary as a player. Bill Russell_sentence_393

Although the salary was touted in the press as a record for an NBA coach, it is unclear whether Russell's continued $100,001 salary as a player was included in the calculation. Bill Russell_sentence_394

Personality Bill Russell_section_23

In 1966, The New York Times wrote "Russell's main characteristics are pride, intelligence, an active and appreciative sense of humor, a preoccupation with dignity, a capacity for consideration once his friendship or sympathy has been aroused, and an unwillingness to compromise whatever truths he has accepted." Bill Russell_sentence_395

Russell himself in 2009 wrote his paternal grandfather's motto, passed down to his father and then to him is: "A man has to draw a line inside himself that he won't allow any man to cross. Bill Russell_sentence_396

"; Russell was "proud of my grandfather's heroic dignity against forces more powerful than him... he would not allow himself to be oppressed or intimidated by anyone. Bill Russell_sentence_397

"; he wrote these words after recounting how grandfather Jake had stood up to the Ku Klux Klan and whites who attempted to thwart his efforts to build a schoolhouse for black children (Jake Russell was the first person in Bill Russell's patrilineal line born free in North America, and was himself illiterate.). Bill Russell_sentence_398

Thus Bill Russell's motto became, "If you disrespect that line, you disrespect me." Bill Russell_sentence_399

As a competitor Bill Russell_section_24

Russell was driven by "a neurotic need to win", as his Celtic teammate Heinsohn observed. Bill Russell_sentence_400

He was so tense before every game that he regularly vomited in the locker room; early in his career it happened so frequently that his fellow Celtics were more worried when it did not happen. Bill Russell_sentence_401

Later in Russell's career, Havlicek said of his teammate and coach that he threw up less often than early in his career, only doing so "when it's an important game or an important challenge for him—someone like Chamberlain, or someone coming up that everyone's touting. Bill Russell_sentence_402

[The sound of Russell throwing up] is a welcome sound, too, because it means he's keyed up for the game, and around the locker room we grin and say, "Man, we're going to be all right tonight." Bill Russell_sentence_403

In a retrospective interview, Russell described the state of mind he felt he needed to enter in order to be able to play basketball as, "I had to almost be in a rage. Bill Russell_sentence_404

Nothing went on outside the borders[] of the court. Bill Russell_sentence_405

I could hear anything, I could see anything, and nothing mattered. Bill Russell_sentence_406

And I could anticipate every move that every player made." Bill Russell_sentence_407

Russell was also known for his natural authority. Bill Russell_sentence_408

When he became player-coach in 1966, Russell bluntly said to his teammates that "he intended to cut all personal ties to other players", and seamlessly made the transition from their peer to their superior. Bill Russell_sentence_409

Russell, at the time his additional role of coach was announced, publicly stated he believed Auerbach's (who he regarded as the greatest of all coaches) impact as a coach confined every or almost every relationship with each Celtic player to a strictly professional one. Bill Russell_sentence_410

Off the court Bill Russell_section_25

Russell was known for his distinctive high-pitched laugh (hear at ) of which Auerbach quipped, "There are only two things that could make me quit coaching[:] My wife and Russell's laugh." Bill Russell_sentence_411

To teammates and friends, Russell was open and amicable, but was extremely distrusting and cold towards anyone else. Bill Russell_sentence_412

Journalists were often treated to the "Russell Glower", described as an "icily contemptuous stare accompanied by a long silence". Bill Russell_sentence_413

Russell was also notorious for his refusal to give autographs or even acknowledge the Celtics fans, and was called "the most selfish, surly and uncooperative athlete" by one pundit. Bill Russell_sentence_414

Russell–Chamberlain relations Bill Russell_section_26

For most of his career, Russell and his perennial opponent Wilt Chamberlain were close friends. Bill Russell_sentence_415

Chamberlain often invited Russell over for Thanksgiving dinner, and at Russell's place, conversation mostly concerned Russell's electric trains. Bill Russell_sentence_416

However, the close relationship ended after Game 7 of the 1969 NBA Finals, when Chamberlain injured his knee with six minutes left and was forced to leave the game. Bill Russell_sentence_417

During a conversation with students, a reporter—unknown to Russell—heard Russell describe Chamberlain as a malingerer and accused him of "copping out" of the game when it seemed that the Lakers would lose. Bill Russell_sentence_418

Chamberlain was livid with Russell and saw him as a backstabber. Bill Russell_sentence_419

Chamberlain's knee was injured so badly that he could not play the entire offseason and he ruptured it the next season. Bill Russell_sentence_420

The two men did not speak to each other for more than 20 years until Russell finally met with Chamberlain and personally apologized. Bill Russell_sentence_421

After that, the two were often seen together at various events and interviewed as friends. Bill Russell_sentence_422

When Chamberlain died in 1999, Chamberlain's nephew said that Russell was the second person he was told to call. Bill Russell_sentence_423

At Chamberlain's eulogy, Russell stated that he did not consider them to be rivals, but rather to have a competition, and that the pair would "be friends through eternity." Bill Russell_sentence_424

Racist abuse, controversy, and relationship with Boston fans Bill Russell_section_27

Russell's life was marked by an uphill battle against racism and controversial actions and statements in response to perceived racism. Bill Russell_sentence_425

As a child he witnessed how his parents were victims of racial abuse, and the family eventually moved into government housing projects to escape the daily torrent of bigotry. Bill Russell_sentence_426

When he later became a standout college player at USF, Russell recalled how he and his few fellow black teammates were jeered by white students. Bill Russell_sentence_427

Even after he became a star with the Boston Celtics, Russell was the victim of racial abuse. Bill Russell_sentence_428

When the NBA All-Stars toured the U.S. in the 1958 offseason, white hotel owners in segregated North Carolina denied rooms to Russell and his black teammates, causing him to later write in his memoir Go Up for Glory, "It stood out, a wall which understanding cannot penetrate. Bill Russell_sentence_429

You are a Negro. Bill Russell_sentence_430

You are less. Bill Russell_sentence_431

It covered every area. Bill Russell_sentence_432

A living, smarting, hurting, smelling, greasy substance which covered you. Bill Russell_sentence_433

A morass to fight from." Bill Russell_sentence_434

Before the 1961–62 season, Russell's team was scheduled to play in an exhibition game in Lexington, Kentucky, when Russell and his black teammates were refused service at a local restaurant. Bill Russell_sentence_435

He and the other black teammates refused to play in the exhibition game and flew home, drawing a great deal of controversy and publicity. Bill Russell_sentence_436

As a consequence, Russell was extremely sensitive to all racial prejudice: according to Taylor, he often perceived insults even if others did not. Bill Russell_sentence_437

He was active in the Black Power movement and supported Muhammad Ali's decision to refuse to be drafted. Bill Russell_sentence_438

He was often called "Felton X", presumably in the tradition of the Nation of Islam's practice of replacing a European slave name with an "X", and even purchased land in Liberia. Bill Russell_sentence_439

Russell's public statements became increasingly militant, and he was quoted in a 1963 Sports Illustrated interview with the words: "I dislike most white people because they are people ... Bill Russell_sentence_440

I like most blacks because I am black"; however, Russell articulated these views with a measure of self-criticism: "I consider this a deficiency in myself—maybe. Bill Russell_sentence_441

If I looked at it objectively, detached myself, it would be a deficiency." Bill Russell_sentence_442

However, when his white Celtics teammate Frank Ramsey asked whether he hated him, Russell claimed to have been misquoted, but few believed it. Bill Russell_sentence_443

According to Taylor, Russell discounted the fact that his career was facilitated by white people who were proven anti-racists: his high school coach George Powles (the person who encouraged him to play basketball), his college coach Phil Woolpert (who integrated USF basketball), Celtics coach Red Auerbach (who is regarded as an anti-racist pioneer and made him the first black NBA coach), and Celtics owner Walter A. Bill Russell_sentence_444 Brown, who gave him a high $24,000 rookie contract, just $1,000 shy of the top earning veteran Bob Cousy. Bill Russell_sentence_445

However, Russell in the above-quoted 1963 Sports Illustrated article said he had "never met a finer person [than George Powles]... Bill Russell_sentence_446

I owe so much to him it's impossible to express." Bill Russell_sentence_447

Years after Taylor's book, Russell published an autobiographical account, Red and Me which chronicled his lifelong friendship with Auerbach. Bill Russell_sentence_448

Bill Bradley for the New York Times Book Review wrote of Red and Me, "Bill Russell is a private, complex man, but on the subject of his love of Red Auerbach and his Celtic teammates, he's loud and clear." Bill Russell_sentence_449

In the book itself Russell wrote "Whenever I leave the Celtics locker room, even Heaven wouldn't be good enough because anywhere else is a step down... With Red [Auerbach] and Walter Brown, I was the freest athlete on the planet. Bill Russell_sentence_450

I could always be myself with them and they were always there for me." Bill Russell_sentence_451

Describing the Celtics organization (as distinguished from Boston sports fans in the 1950s and 1960s) as very progressive racially, Russell in 2010 recalled a list of the organization's accomplishments on racial progress both in terms of objective milestones and his own subjective experience as a member of the organization: Bill Russell_sentence_452

In 1966, Russell was promoted to head coach of the Boston Celtics. Bill Russell_sentence_453

During a press conference, Russell was asked: "As the first Negro head coach in a major league sport, can you do the job impartially without any racial prejudice in reverse?" Bill Russell_sentence_454

He replied "Yes." Bill Russell_sentence_455

The reporter asked, "How?" Bill Russell_sentence_456

Russell replied, "Because the most important factor is respect. Bill Russell_sentence_457

And in basketball I respect a man for his ability, period." Bill Russell_sentence_458

As a result of repeated racial bigotry, Russell refused to respond to fan acclaim or friendship from his neighbors, thinking it was insincere and hypocritical. Bill Russell_sentence_459

This attitude contributed to his legendarily bad rapport with fans and journalists. Bill Russell_sentence_460

He alienated Celtics fans by saying, "You owe the public the same it owes you, nothing! Bill Russell_sentence_461

I refuse to smile and be nice to the kiddies." Bill Russell_sentence_462

This supported the opinion of many white fans that Russell (who was by then the highest-paid Celtic) was egotistical, paranoid and hypocritical. Bill Russell_sentence_463

The already hostile atmosphere between Russell and Boston hit its apex when vandals broke into his house, covered the walls with racist graffiti, damaged his trophies and defecated in the beds. Bill Russell_sentence_464

In response, Russell described Boston as a "flea market of racism". Bill Russell_sentence_465

In King Of The Court by Aram Goudsouzian, he was quoted saying, "From my very first year I thought of myself as playing for the Celtics, not for Boston. Bill Russell_sentence_466

The fans could do or think whatever they wanted." Bill Russell_sentence_467

Referring to a time when the Celtics did not frequently sell out the Boston Garden (while the generally-mediocre and all-white NHL Boston Bruins did), Russell recalled "We [the Celtics] did a survey about what we could do to improve attendance. Bill Russell_sentence_468

Over 50 percent of responses said 'There's too many black players.'" Bill Russell_sentence_469

In retirement, Russell described the Boston press as corrupt and racist; in response, Boston sports journalist Larry Claflin claimed that Russell himself was the real racist. Bill Russell_sentence_470

The FBI maintained a file on Russell, and described him in their file as "an arrogant Negro who won't sign autographs for white children". Bill Russell_sentence_471

Russell refused to attend the ceremony when his jersey #6 was retired in 1972; he also refused to attend his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1975. Bill Russell_sentence_472

While Russell still has sore feelings towards Boston, there has been something of a reconciliation; on November 15, 2019 Russell did accept the Hall of fame ring in a private ceremony with family, and he has even visited the city regularly in recent years, something he never did in the years immediately after his retirement. Bill Russell_sentence_473

When Russell originally retired, he demanded that his jersey be retired in an empty Boston Garden. Bill Russell_sentence_474

In 1995, the Celtics left Boston Garden and entered the FleetCenter, now the TD Garden, and as the main festive act, the Boston organization wanted to re-retire Russell's jersey in front of a sellout audience. Bill Russell_sentence_475

Perennially wary of what he long perceived as a racist city, Russell decided to make amends and gave his approval. Bill Russell_sentence_476

On May 6, 1999, the Celtics re-retired Russell's jersey in a ceremony attended by his on-court rival (and friend) Chamberlain, along with Celtics legend Larry Bird and Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Bill Russell_sentence_477

The crowd gave Russell a prolonged standing ovation, which brought tears to his eyes. Bill Russell_sentence_478

He thanked Chamberlain for taking him to the limit and "making [him] a better player" and the crowd for "allowing [him] to be a part of their lives." Bill Russell_sentence_479

In December 2008, the We Are Boston Leadership Award was presented to Russell. Bill Russell_sentence_480

On September 26, 2017, Russell posted a photograph of himself to a previously unused Twitter account in which he was taking a knee in solidarity with NFL players kneeling during the US national anthem. Bill Russell_sentence_481

Russell wore his Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the image was captioned with "Proud to take a knee, and to stand tall against social injustice." Bill Russell_sentence_482

In an interview with ESPN, Russell said he wanted the NFL players to know they weren't alone. Bill Russell_sentence_483

See also Bill Russell_section_28

Bill Russell_unordered_list_0

Selected publications Bill Russell_section_29

Bill Russell_unordered_list_1

  • Russell, Bill; McSweeny, William (1966). . Coward-McCann.Bill Russell_item_1_5
  • Russell, Bill; Branch, Taylor (1979). Second Wind. Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-394-50385-1.Bill Russell_item_1_6
  • Russell, Bill; Hilburg, Alan; Faulkner, David (2001). . New American Library. ISBN 0-525-94598-9.Bill Russell_item_1_7
  • Russell, Bill; Steinberg, Alan (2009). . Harper. ISBN 978-0-06-176614-5.Bill Russell_item_1_8

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Russell.