William Felton Russell was an American professional basketball player who played as a center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association from 1956 to 1969.
131 Facts About Bill Russell
Bill Russell is widely considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
Bill Russell led the San Francisco Dons to two consecutive NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956, and he captained the gold-medal winning US national basketball team at the 1956 Summer Olympics.
Bill Russell was equally notable for his rebounding abilities, and 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 is one of just two NBA players to have grabbed more than 50 rebounds in a game.
Bill Russell served a three-season stint as player-coach for the Celtics, becoming the first black coach in the NBA and the first to win a championship.
Bill Russell was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975, was one of the founding inductees into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 and was enshrined in the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2007.
Bill Russell was selected into the NBA 25th Anniversary Team in 1971 and the NBA 35th Anniversary Team in 1980, named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, one of only four players to receive all three honors, and selected into the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021.
Bill Russell was born on February 12,1934, to Charles Russell and Katie Russell in West Monroe, Louisiana.
Bill 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 told her to go home and remove the dress, which he described as "white woman's clothing".
When Bill Russell was eight years old, his father moved the family out of Louisiana and settled in Oakland, California.
When World War II broke out, the elder Bill Russell became a truck driver.
Bill 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's father gave up his trucking job and became a steelworker in order to be closer to his children.
Bill Russell 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 worked hard and used the benefits of a growth spurt to become a decent basketball player.
Bill Russell soon became noted for his unusual style of defense.
Bill Russell 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 was ignored by college recruiters and received not one offer until recruiter Hal DeJulio from the University of San Francisco watched him play in a high school game.
DeJulio was unimpressed by Bill Russell's meager scoring and "atrocious fundamentals", but he sensed that the young Bill Russell had an extraordinary instinct for the game, especially in the clutch.
At USF, Bill Russell became the new starting center for coach Phil Woolpert of the San Francisco Dons.
Bill Russell became one of several big men who have brought about NCAA rule changes.
Bill Russell led USF to NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956, including a string of 55 consecutive victories, and a 26-point, 27-rebound, 20-block performance in one game.
Bill Russell became known for his strong defense and shot-blocking skills, once denying 13 shots in a game.
Besides basketball, Bill Russell represented USF in track and field events.
That year, Bill Russell won high jump titles at the Central California Amateur Athletic Union meet, the Pacific AAU meet, and the West Coast Relays.
Bill Russell competed in the 440 yards race, which he could complete in 49.6 seconds.
The Harlem Globetrotters invited Bill Russell to join their exhibition basketball squad.
Bill 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 reasoned that if Saperstein was too smart to speak with him, then he was too smart to play for Saperstein.
Boston's chances of getting Bill Russell seemed slim because they had finished second in the previous season and the worst teams had the highest draft picks, and the Celtics had slipped too low in the draft order to pick Bill Russell.
Auerbach later said that Brown offered Harrison guaranteed performances of the Ice Capades if they did not draft Bill Russell; it is difficult to verify or disprove this, but it is clear that the Royals underrated Bill Russell.
The St Louis Hawks, who owned the second pick, drafted Bill Russell but were vying for Celtics center Ed Macauley, a six-time NBA All-Star who had roots in St Louis.
Avery Brundage, head of the International Olympic Committee, argued that Bill Russell had already signed a professional sport contract and was no longer an amateur sportsman, but Bill Russell prevailed.
Bill Russell 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 later commented that he would have participated in the high jump if he had been snubbed by the basketball team.
Bill Russell led the team in scoring, averaging 14.1 points per game for the competition.
Bill Russell played 48 games, averaging 14.7 points per game and a league-high 19.6 rebounds per game.
Auerbach assigned him to shut down the Hawks' main scorer and Bill Russell impressed the Boston crowd with his man-to-man defense and shot-blocking.
Bill Russell became famous for his shot-blocking skills and pundits called his blocks "Wilsonburgers", referring to the Wilson NBA basketballs he "shoved back into the faces of opposing shooters".
Gottlieb protested the next day, saying that Bill Russell played a one-man zone and goaltended numerous times, to only be called once.
At that time, Bill Russell received much negative publicity as a player.
Bill Russell was notorious for his public surliness and judgmental attitude towards others.
Bill Russell had a more cordial relationship with many of his teammates with the notable exception of Heinsohn, his old rival and fellow rookie.
Heinsohn felt that Bill Russell resented him because the former was named the 1957 NBA Rookie of the Year.
Many people thought that Bill Russell was more important even though he had only played half the season.
Bill Russell 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 averaged 16.6 points per game and a league-record average of 22.7 rebounds per game.
The teams split the first two games, but Bill Russell went down with a foot injury in Game 3 and only returned for Game 6.
On November 7,1959, Bill 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".
In overtime, Frank Ramsey, the fourth forward, fouled out trying to guard Baylor, so Bill Russell was robbed of his usual four-men wing rotation; he and little-used fifth forward Gene Guarilia successfully pressured Baylor into missed shots.
In Game 3, Bill Russell had 21 points, 38 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Bill Russell scored 15.0 points per game 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 later called it the best team of his era and the best defense of all time.
Bill Russell held Chamberlain to a pair of field goals in the first three quarters of Game 3.
Bill Russell made a free throw, blocked a shot by Sixers player Chet Walker, grabbed a rebound off a miss by Greer, and passed the ball to teammate Sam Jones, who scored to clinch the win.
Bill Russell was convinced that the US was a corrupt nation and that he was wasting his time playing something as superficial as basketball.
Bill Russell pulled himself together and put up 9.9 points and 19.3 rebounds per game; the aging Celtics stumbled through the regular season.
Bill Russell then reversed himself and ordered his team to double-team West and Boston won Game 3.
Bill Russell used a copy as extra motivation and told his team to play a running game because in that case it was not the better but the more determined team that was going to win.
At age 35, Bill Russell contributed with 6 points, 21 rebounds, and 6 assists in his last NBA game.
In Boston, both fans and journalists felt betrayed because Bill Russell left the Celtics without a coach and a center, and he sold his retirement story for $10,000 to Sports Illustrated.
Bill Russell was accused of selling out the future of the franchise for a month of his salary.
Bill Russell notified Auerbach that he was resigning to join a career in television and movies "in order to find new sources of income for the future".
In 1971, Bill Russell joined NBA on ABC to do commentary on the Game of the Week.
Bill Russell was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975.
Bill Russell, who had a difficult relationship with the media, did not attend either ceremony.
Bill Russell attended his 2021 induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach.
Bill Russell had invested $250,000 in a rubber plantation in Liberia, where he had wanted to spend his retirement, but it went bankrupt.
The Internal Revenue Service discovered that Bill Russell owed $34,430 in tax money and put a lien on his house.
Bill 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 wrote books, usually written as a joint project with a professional writer, including 1979's Second Wind, and played Judge Roger Ferguson in the Miami Vice episode "The Fix".
Bill Russell made few public appearances in the early 1990s, living as a near-recluse on Mercer Island, Washington, near Seattle.
Bill Russell was one of five, along with James Naismith, Oscar Robertson, Dean Smith, and John Wooden, selected to represent the inaugural class.
On May 20,2007, Bill Russell was awarded an honorary doctorate by Suffolk University, where he served as its commencement speaker.
Bill Russell received honorary degrees from Harvard University on June 7,2007, and from Dartmouth College on June 14,2009.
On June 18,2007, Bill Russell was inducted as a member of the founding class of the FIBA Hall of Fame.
In 2008, Bill Russell received the Golden Plate Award of the Academy of Achievement.
Bill Russell attended Game 5 of the 2009 NBA Finals to present Bryant the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award.
Bill Russell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011.
Bill Russell is one of the most successful and decorated athletes in North American sports history.
Bill Russell still holds the NBA record for rebounds in one half with 32.
Bill Russell is the all-time playoff leader in total and average rebounds per game, he grabbed 40 rebounds in three separate playoff games, and he never failed to average at least 20 rebounds per game in any of his thirteen playoff campaigns.
Bill Russell had seven regular-season games with 40 or more rebounds, the NBA Finals record for highest rebound per game average and by a rookie.
Bill Russell had 51 in one game, 49 in two others, and twelve straight seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds.
Bill Russell was known as one of the most clutch players in the NBA.
Bill Russell was considered the consummate defensive center, noted for his defensive intensity, basketball IQ, and will to win.
Bill Russell excelled at playing man-to-man defense, blocking shots, and grabbing defensive rebounds.
In 2009, Russell's erstwhile Knicks opponent Bill Bradley wrote in The New York Times Book Review that Russell "was the smartest player ever to play the game [of basketball]".
Bill Russell was known as a fine passer and pick-and-roll setter, featured a decent left-handed hook shot, and finished strong on alley oops.
On offense, Bill Russell's output was limited and his NBA career personal averages show him to be an average scorer, a poor free-throw shooter, and average overall shooter from the field.
Bill Simmons has estimated that Russell had between 8 and 15 blocks per game in the playoffs.
Bill Russell was selected three times to the All-NBA First Teams and eight Second Teams, and was a 12-time NBA All-Star.
Bill Russell is universally seen as one of the best NBA players ever, and he was declared "Greatest Player in the History of the NBA" by the Professional Basketball Writers Association of America in 1980.
Bill Russell is one of four players to have made all four NBA anniversary teams: the NBA 25th Anniversary Team, the NBA 35th Anniversary Team, the NBA 50th Anniversary Team, and the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.
Bill Russell ranked No 18 on ESPN's "50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century" list in 1999.
Bill Russell was named as a 2010 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
On June 15,2017, Bill Russell was announced as the inaugural recipient of the NBA Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 2013, Boston honored Bill Russell by erecting a statue of him on City Hall Plaza.
Bill Russell is depicted in-game, surrounded by 11 plinths representing the 11 championships he helped the Celtics win.
Bill Russell was married to his college sweetheart Rose Swisher from 1956 to 1973.
In 1996, Bill Russell married his third wife, Marilyn Nault; their marriage lasted until her death in January 2009.
Bill Russell was married to Jeannine Bill Russell at the time of his death.
Bill Russell was a resident of Mercer Island, Washington, for over four decades.
In 1959, Bill Russell became the first NBA player to visit Africa.
Bill Russell was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, having been initiated into its Gamma Alpha chapter while a student at University of San Francisco.
On October 16,2013, Bill Russell was arrested for bringing his registered, loaded.
Bill Russell was issued a citation and released, and the Transportation Security Administration indicated it would levy a civil penalty, which would be between $3,000 and $7,500.
Bill Russell died at his Mercer Island, Washington, home on July 31,2022, at the age of 88.
When Wilt Chamberlain became the first NBA player to earn $100,000 in salary in 1965, Bill Russell went to Auerbach and demanded a $100,001 salary, which he promptly received.
Bill Russell was driven by "a neurotic need to win", as his Celtic teammate Tom Heinsohn observed.
Bill Russell 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 than when it did.
When he became player-coach in 1966, Bill 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.
At the time his additional role of coach was announced, Bill Russell publicly stated he believed Red Auerbach's impact as a coach confined every or almost every relationship with each Celtic player to a strictly professional one.
Journalists were often treated to the "Bill Russell Glower", described as an "icily contemptuous stare accompanied by a long silence".
Bill Russell was notorious for his refusal to give autographs or acknowledge the Celtics fans, and was called "the most selfish, surly and uncooperative athlete" by one pundit.
Bill Russell was livid with Russell and saw him as a backstabber.
When Chamberlain died in 1999, Chamberlain's nephew said that Bill Russell was the second person he was told to call.
In delivering a eulogy for Chamberlain, Bill 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's life was marked by an uphill battle against racism and controversial actions and statements in response to racism.
When he later became a standout college player at USF, Bill Russell recalled how he and his few fellow black teammates were jeered by white students.
Bill Russell was active in the Black Power movement and was among the African-American athletes and the one political leader who came together at the 1967 Cleveland Summit to support Muhammad Ali and his decision to refuse to be drafted.
Bill Russell 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 purchased land in Liberia.
In 1966, Bill Russell was promoted to head coach of the Celtics.
The FBI maintained a file on Bill Russell and described him in their file as "an arrogant Negro who won't sign autographs for white children".
Bill Russell refused to attend the ceremony when his jersey No 6 was retired in 1972; he refused to attend his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1975.
On November 15,2019, Bill Russell accepted the Hall of Fame ring in a private ceremony with family.
When Bill Russell originally retired, he demanded that his jersey be retired in an empty Boston Garden.
Perennially wary of what he long perceived as a racist city, Bill Russell decided to make amends and gave his approval.
On September 26,2017, Bill Russell posted a photograph of himself to a previously unused Twitter account in which he was taking the knee in solidarity with the US national anthem kneeling protests.