If you are a basketball enthusiast, the name of Bill Russell is not new to you. He is probably the greatest basketball player in the history of the NBA championship league. Bill Russell NBA rings are among his significant achievements in his basketball career that make him an outstanding player.
He also led his team to win the NBA title numerous times in his career, both as a player and a coach.
Bill Russell’s childhood
Bill Russell (William Felton Russell) was born on February 12, 1934, in Monroe – a rural in Louisiana in the United States. When he was eight years old, his family moved to Oakland, California for greener pastures. It is here that the star of this basketball legend began to rise.
At this age, Bill was tall enough to join his high school team. His height guaranteed him a place in his high school team. He played as a marginal player, until one summer basketball tour where he had been selected as part of the school’s team. It is at this time when he discovered a new tactic that he could use to lead his team to victory.
Bill realized that jumping and running could be a brilliant trick to counteract and mirror the creative and flashy players who regularly give their teams victory. This new tactic was a major breakthrough. It later changed not only his life but also the basketball itself in the long run.
The beginning of Bill Russell’s Basketball career
Russell continued to play in his high school team. Fortunately, Hal DeJulio, who was a former basketball player in the nearby University of San Francisco (USF), saw him playing and was impressed by his game and saw great potential in him. Consequently, he recommended him to his former school (USF).
At this time, Russell was approximately six-foot and nine-inches tall. With his tactics, he led his team (USF) to victory at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship in both 1955 and 1956. He was also identified as a high jumper and sprinter on USF’s track-and-field team.
In 1956, the Boston Celtics’ head coach and the team’s general manager, Red Auerbach, saw a solution to his team’s weaknesses in Bill Russell. He added him to his team as one of his most reliable players to play in the upcoming NBA championship.
His performance in this tournament was incredible, and his impact was immediately felt. Through his contribution, he helped the Celtics to win the NBA title in his rookie year. And he became the first Black American superstar in the NBA League.
He ostensibly missed this year’s (1956) award as the player of the year, which went to his college, Tom Heinsohn.
In the same year, he was also in the U.S. National Basketball Team where he participated in the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games. Here, he helped his team win a gold medal. In fact, it is due to the practice and participation of these Olympic games that made him miss some games in the NBA championship. As a result, he missed the award that went to Heinsohn, who had played the entire season.
Bill Russell Championship Rings
Amazingly, his rings are more than the fingers he can wear. Bill Russell won eleven rings during the Boston Celtics golden era. In his 13 seasons as a basketball player, he won eleven NBA championships.
This can be translated to mean that 85% of the time he played in the NBA, he won an NBA championship. This ranks him as the top basketball player with may NBA rings in the history of NBA championship.
Won his first ring in 1957, and thereafter Bill Russell won rings for ten consecutive years, from 1959-1969. All these NBA rings he won was when he played with the Boston Celtics team. It is believed that he could have won twelve rings if it were not for the ankle injury, he had in 1958.
Besides the rings he won, his career was also signified by the incredible number of rebounds made. Over his career life, he made an average of over 20 rebounds per game.
Russell still holds the second-best position of a single game rebounding of 55 rebounds. He holds the record for the player who has made the most rebound in one half.
This was recorded when he grabbed 32 rebounds in one half when playing against Philadelphia on November 16, 1957. He has recorded a total rebound of 21,620 rebounds in all the games he played in his regular seasons.
Bill Russell as a civil right activist against racism
It is believed that apart from missing some games during the 1956 NBA tournament, the most fundamental reason which made him miss the award was his skin colour. The white Heinsohn was a favourite candidate to many voters who are mostly white Americans.
As Celtics came to dominate the NBA, Russell became more outspoken and relentlessly intelligent on matters of race, and racial discrimination with his contemporary Muhammad Ali. Although Boston was known to be notoriously racist, Russell could not tolerate any form of racism in sport.
During his basketball career, he supported the American civil rights movements. He also spoke openly against the Vietnam war. That is something that had not been done by any athlete of his status before.
The fruits of his efforts against racism were seen in 1964 when Boston Celtics became the first team in the NBA to present a line-up of pure black Americans, with no single white American player.
Bill Russell’s life after retiring as a basketball player
Russell succeeded Auerbach as Boston Celtics coach after his retirement shortly after his team won the 1965-1966 NBA title. By taking this position as a coach, he became the first black American coach in the history of NBA and led his team to victory for two consecutive years (the 1967-9168 and 1968-969) where his team took the NBA title of the year.
He thereafter retired completely from basketball. However, he remained active in social causes as serving to be a commentator on different television broadcasts.
This is the reason why some commentators describe him as a consummate defensive centre, who had outshining and unmatched defensive intensity; and an incredible basketball IQ and a sheer spirit to win.
Bill Russell acquire rings that remain to be a sing of victory and greatness in the field of basketball. He is one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA.