|Full Name||William Felton Russell|
|Date of Birth||February 12, 1934|
|Height||6 ft 10 in|
|Debut||December 22, 1956|
|Nickname||The Secretary of Defense and Mr. 11 Rings|
William Felton Russell was a professional American basketball player. He played for the Boston Celtics franchise in the National Basketball Association throughout his career. Russell was well-known for his rebounding prowess and defensive toughness. He was born on February 12, 1934, and died on July 31, 2022. During his 13-year-long professional basketball career with the Celtics, Bill incredibly won 11 NBA championships. He was also a 12-time NBA All-Star and a five-time NBA MVP. He is widely recognized to be one of the greatest players of all time. Bill Russell also led the San Francisco Dons to two NCAA championships consecutively in 1955 and 1956.
Bill Russell Early Life
Bill Russell was born on February 12, 1934, in West Monroe, Louisiana. He belonged to the black ethnicity and faced racism several times daily. Once his father refused to take service at a gas station because white customers were prioritized. The attendant aimed a shotgun at his face and threatened to kill him if he didn’t wait for his turn. During his early years of age, Bill Russell struggled to capture basketball skills as he was unable to understand the game. Several times in the school, he missed opportunities but once coach George Powles noticed his potential and motivated him to work on fundamentals.
Initially, Russel was ignored by college officials but a recruiter Hal DeJulio from the University of San Francisco noticed him playing in the high school game. He found Russel’s extraordinary instinct for the game and offered him a scholarship. Russel accepted it eagerly and realized that only basketball can help him prevent poverty and racism.
At the University of San Francisco (USF), Russell became the new Center for coach Phil Woolpert. He continued to carve his skills and became one of the crucial players for the side. Eventually, Bill led his team to win the NCAA championship in 1955 and 1956. It also included a series of 55 consecutive victories.
Bill Russell NBA Journey
1956 Summer Olympics
After a series of incidents and debates, the Boston Celtics managed to acquire Bill Russell in the 1956 NBA draft. Meanwhile, he wasn’t available to the Celtics for the 1956-57 NBA season due to his Olympic commitment. He captained the US men’s Olympic basketball team in the Summer Olympics 1956 held in Australia. They ran an extraordinary string of victories to acquire the gold medal. The United States defeated the Soviet Union national basketball team in the final with an 8-0 undefeated run. Russell averaged 14.1 points per game in the tournament.
As mentioned above, Russell couldn’t join the Boston Celtics in the 1956-57 season due to the Summer Olympics. When he joined the Celtics, he played his debut game for the franchise on December 22, 1956, against the St. Louis Hawks. In the NBA 1956-57 season, the Celtics exhibited their pure dominance and approached the NBA Finals for the first time in their NBA history. They beat the St. Louis Hawks in the final game.
In the next NBA season, the Celtics retained their incredible performance and courage to win 14 straight games. Russell averaged 16.6 points per game and was listed as the NBA Most Valuable Player and All-NBA Second Team. They reached again in the NBA Finals to play with their familiar rivals, the St. Louis Hawks. But this time the Celtics were unable to make it. In the 1958-59 season, Bill Russell averaged 16.7 points and 23.0 rebounds per game. He again helped his side get to the NBA Finals and recaptured the title by beating the Minneapolis Lakers in the final.
The 1959-60 NBA season witnessed the debut of center Wilt chamberlain. When Russell and Wilt played against each other, pundits called this the competition between the best offensive and defensive centers. It was also called a ‘new beginning of basketball’ and became one of the greatest rivalries in the NBA. The Celtics again played and beat the Hawks in the NBA Finals.
Russell averaged 16.9 points each game in the NBA 1960-61 season. He supported his team vigorously in the season to make a berth in the final. The rival Hawks were again there to face the Celtics in the NBA Finals but they were unable again to curb the opposition. The subsequent (1961-62) season also brought great success for Russell and he managed to register a career-high 18.9 points along with 23.6 rebounds per game. In the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics met the Los Angeles Lakers and defeated them confidently.
The Boston Celtics proceeded with its amazing form to snatch another NBA Finals in the 1962-63 season. Bill Russell performed well again and averaged 16.8 points and 23.6 rebounds per game to acquire his 4th regular-season MVP award. They again defeated the Lakers in the final game. Russell gained 21 points, 6 assists and 38 rebounds in Game 3.
The Celtics featured its league-best record of 58-22 in the 1963-64 NBA season. He captured 15.0 points to grab a career-high 24.7 rebounds per game. The Celtics again reached the NBA Finals and took over the San Francisco Warriors in the final contest. In the 1964-65 NBA season, Bill Russell was successful to win his 5th MVP award. His side entered the NBA Finals this season again and fight against the Lakers to beat them.
In the 1965-66 NBA season, the Boston Celtics managed to acquire the NBA Finals for the eighth consecutive time. It was a tight showdown against the Los Angeles Lakers. Russell scored 25 points and 32 rebounds in a 95-93 win in Game 7. In the 1967-68 NBA season, Bill averaged 12.5 points per game to help the franchise clinch another NBA title. They defeated the Lakers in the final to acquire its 10th NBA title. In 1969, Bill Russell announced his retirement from professional basketball.
Bill Russell Education
Bill Russell underwent hard times while developing his skills for the game. Since he didn’t understand the game and departed from the team at Herbert Hoover Junior High School. He was also almost cut from his team at McClymonds High School as a freshman before a coach noticed his potential. Later, Russell also attended the University of San Francisco (USF) and played crucial contests.
Bill Russell Championship
Bill Russell is one of the few NBA players who were an NBA champion ten times or more. He supported the Celtics to its first-ever NBA title in the 1956-57 NBA season. Later, Bill Russell again showed incredible performance and stamina through the next 12 years to earn 10 more NBA titles before his retirement. It also included 8 NBA final victories in a row. Hence, Bill Russell was an 11-time NBA champion in his career.
Bill Russell Awards and Achievements
|NBA Champion||1957, 1959-1966, 1968, 1969|
|NBA Most Valuable Player||1958, 1961-1963, 1965|
|NBA All-Star Game MVP||1963|
|All-NBA First Team||1959, 1963, 1965|
|All-NBA Second Team||1958, 1960-1962, 1964, 1966-1968|
|NBA All-Defensive First Team||1969|
|NBA Rebounding Champion||1958, 1959, 1964, 1965|
|NBA Lifetime Achievement Award||2017|
|NBA Anniversary Team||25th, 35th, 50th, 75th|
|NCAA Champion||1955, 1956|
|UPI College Player of the Year||1956|
Bill Russell Net Worth
Bill Russell is one of the highest earners in his career time. At that time, salaries were not too high in NBA basketball. Bill made his rookie deal worth US$24000 in 1956. Well, Bill Russell’s net worth is reported to be US$10 million at the time of his death. In comparison, Paolo Banchero had a contract worth US$50.1 million in 2022. It was more than five times Bill’s net worth.
Bill Russell Contract
In terms of earnings, Bill Russell was considered to be one of the big earners in the NBA during his career time. His biggest contract was worth 24000 US dollars which he agreed to in 1956. Bill had never worked part-time, unlike other Celtics, to maintain his living standards. Meanwhile, Russell also re-signed his contract with the Boston Celtics several times throughout his career.
Bill Russell Family
Bill Russell was one of the most accomplished basketball players in NBA history. He was born on February 12, 1934, in Louisiana. His mother’s name was Katie Russell and his father’s name was Charles Russell. Russell lost his mother at the age of 12. His childhood was full of hardships and he grew up in poverty. Bill’s life was quite romantic and he married three women in his life. Firstly, he wed his college girlfriend Rose Swisher in 1956 and the couple had three children. They parted ways in 1973. In 1977, Bill married former Miss USA Dorothy Anstett and divorced in 1980. Then Russell got married to Marilyn Nault who passed away in 2009.
Bill Russell's Girlfriend
Bill Russell’s girlfriend was Rose Swisher. They first met during their college time and got married in 1956 and divorced in 1973.
Bill Russell's Dad
Charles Russell was Bill Russell’s father. They belong to the black ethnicity and faced racism in daily life.
Bill Russell Shoe
Bill Russell was a loyal customer of Converse, previously. Meanwhile, he also loved to wear All-Stars and the Bristols.