Bill Russell

William Felton "Bill" Russell ( born February 12, 1934 in Monroe, Louisiana ) is a retired American professional basketball player. From 1956 to 1969 he played for the Boston Celtics and won eleven championships in that time. He still holds the record for the most league titles an NBA player. Russell is 2,08 m tall and played the position of center.

Youth, College and Olympic

Russell was born in Monroe, Louisiana. However, his family left the South because of racial hostility, when Bill Russell was eight years old. He grew up in Oakland, California. He attended from 1952 to 1956, the University of San Francisco ( USF ). Together with his teammate KC Jones, with whom he also played together later with the Celtics, Russell led the basketball team at the University of 56 wins in a row. This outstanding performance was crowned with two NCAA Championships '55 and '56. Russell 1955 was voted the best player of the NCAA championship tournament. During his time at USF, he scored an average of 20.7 points and 20.3 rebounds per game.

Bill Russell was also a very good athlete. In 1956, he finished in eleventh place in the world leaderboard years in the high jump with a height of 2.06 meters achieved.

At the Olympics 1956 he was captain of the U.S. team that won gold for the USA in basketball.

NBA career


After his college career, Bill Russell joined in 1956 in the NBA. Actually, he was drafted as the second overall pick by the St. Louis Hawks. Red Auerbach, however, managed to get him in exchange for Ed Macauley, a six-time All-Star and Cliff Hagan, a future Hall of Famer for those days, and multiple All-Star, to Boston. The exchange was worth it for the Celtics after one season, for his first championship with the Celtics won Russell already as a rookie. They won the NBA Finals against the St. Louis Hawks, who they defeated in seven games. In his first three seasons in the NBA he was the best rebounder in each of the league. So he scored in his rookie season on average 19.6 rebounds per game .. In his second season, the season in 1957/58, he scored 22.7 rebounds and 16.6 points per game. So Russell was the first player in the league history, more than 20 rebounds per game brought in a season. This feat he also achieved in the following nine seasons. In the season 1957/58 Russell first most valuable player of the season (MVP) was also selected. He reached in 1958 with the Celtics once again the NBA Finals, but lost this for the first and only time, against the Hawks, who could thus avenge their Finals defeat from the previous year.

In the season 1958/59 he presented with contributed 23 rebounds per game again on a new league record. This season he was also chosen first team in the All- NBA First. In the playoffs, in 1959 Russell took on average an impressive 27.7 rebounds per game. In the Finals, the Celtics decided the 4-0 wins against the Lakers for himself, he set a new Finals record with an average of 29.5 rebounds per game.


The title of 1959 marked the beginning of a to date in North American professional team sports unique record series. Between 1959 and 1966 Russell Celtics won eight times in a row the championship, one of today's unrivaled performance. The entire 1960s are now called the Celtics dynasty usually. The central role that Russell had in this dynasty, shows, among other things, that he was elected 1961-1963 three times in a row most valuable player in the league. He received these awards, although his great rival at the center position, Wilt Chamberlain, could each have significantly better results in all major statistics. So Russell was, for example, in 1962 was elected MVP, even though he won only 18.9 points on average, while Chamberlain scored in the same season, a record level of 50.4 points on average. But Russell was the one of the two, which was the more important player for his team's success. So Don Nelson said about the importance of Bill Russell 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 season 1959/60 was for Bill Russell, with 18.2 points and made ​​24 rebounds, saw his of the statistics here, so far best. In 1960, he met with his team not only in the regular season, but also in the playoffs for the first time on his big time rivals in the center position, to Wilt Chamberlain and his Philadelphia Warriors. Although Chamberlain in the six games scored 81 points more than Russell, the Celtics won the series 4-2 victories. The Finals, the Celtics won against the Hawks 4-3 victories, with Russell contributed 22 points and 35 rebounds to victory in the decisive seventh game.

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


After winning the eighth championship in a row in 1966 Red Auerbach retired as coach and Bill Russell was player - coach of the Celtics. He was thus the first African-American head coach of an NBA team. The first season in his new role was relatively disappointing for the victory usual Celtics. The season 1966/67, was the first and only, not reached in the Russell with the Celtics the NBA Finals. He succumbed to his team against the Philadelphia 76ers in the Conference Finals. In the following season, the Celtics were at the 76ers, according to a series that went seven games, return the favor. After they won the Finals against the Lakers. Russell was selected this year by the magazine Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.

Even in his last season (1968 /69) reached Russell and his team to the NBA Finals. This performance is remarkable, because the aging Celtics had a very weak regular season and demonstrated only with difficulty ever reached the playoffs. The Celtics won the title after a series of seven hard-fought games against the Los Angeles Lakers, who had previously reinforced with Wilt Chamberlain. After winning his eleventh championship in 1969 Russell ended his career as a player.

Coaching career

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

Appreciation of his performance

To this day, Russell is considered one of the best players, and above all as one of the best defensive players, the NBA history. Russell's qualities as a defender set new standards in the league. He was the first player in the league who could dominate a game on the defensive. Further properties, lift the Russells special significance for the Celtics, are his will to win and his clutch -play (obtaining maximum power at crucial moments ). These two features were decisive for the success of the Celtics. So said his former teammate Cousy about him: "His will to win made ​​the difference" .. He was with the Celtics ten times in a decisive seventh and once in a decisive fifth playoff game and won with the Celtics all eleven games. In these crucial games he showed almost always a particularly strong performance. So he brought in the crucial games in average 18 points and 29.45 rebounds. This cut is better than his playoff career average of 16.2 points and 24.9 rebounds per game.

Bill Russell was elected during his career as an NBA player five times MVP (1958, 1961-63, 1965). He was also appointed three times to the All- NBA First Team (1959, 1963 and 1965 ) and 1969 in the first NBA All-Defensive team league history. In addition, Russell was nominated twelve times for the NBA All-Star Game. His career averages are for the regular season at 15.1 points, 4.3 templates and 22.5 rebounds per game. Russell has thus, according to Wilt Chamberlain, the second-highest career rebound average of all NBA players. Russell and Chamberlain are the only players to this day that brought more than 20,000 rebounds in their career. Bill Russell took a total of five times the most rebounds per game in a season ( 1957-1959,1964,1965 ). Four times he got absolutely counted most rebounds (1957, 1959, 1964, 1965 ) in one season. He also took in twelve consecutive seasons at least 1,000 rebounds. In addition, Russell took both the most rebounds of all NBA players in the playoffs ( 4104 ), as well as most playoff rebounds average per game ( 24.9 ). In addition, Russell has the second most rebounds in a game brought (51 ) and most rebounds in a half (32).

On May 28 In 1975 he was appointed to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Five years later, journalists voted him the best player of all time. In 1996, he was selected by the NBA, the 50th anniversary of the league, one of the 50 best players of all time. On 14 February 2009 during the All Star Weekend NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that the NBA Finals MVP Award is named after Bill Russell in the future. On 12 September 2007 he was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame. 2011 Russell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the USA.