William Felton Russell is a retired American basketball player who professionally played for the Boston Celtics in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is an 11-Time champion, 5-time NBA Most Valuable Player, 3-Time All-NBA First Team, 1-Time All-NBA Defensive Team, 12-Time NBA All-Star, and 1-Time NBA All-Star Game MVP.
Playing his college basketball at San Francisco, Russell was a 2-Time NCAA Champion (1955, 1956), 1955 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, 1956 UPI College Player of the Year, 2-Time Helms Player of the Year (1955, 1956), 2-Time Consensus First Team All-American (1955, 1956), and 1956 WCC Player of the Year. Bill was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1956 NBA Draft. But with Red Auerbach’s eyes set on Russell, he manufactured a deal that would send Ed McCauley and Cliff Hagan in exchange for Russell. This deal is easily one of the craziest draft day trades that changed the whole history of this league. Bill Russell went on to become one of the best players to have ever played the game.
He was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty that won eleven NBA championships during his thirteen-year career. Russell was never the focal point of the Celtics’ offense, but his shot-blocking, man-to-man defense, and effective passing were the major reasons for the Celtics' domination in that era. He was also a great rebounder, leading the NBA in rebounds four times. He had a dozen consecutive seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds and still remains second on the all-time list in both total rebounds and rebounds per game.
Playing in the wake of black pioneers like Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, and Sweetwater Clifton, Russell became the first black player to achieve superstar status in the NBA. He is the only player in NBA History to be named to the NBA 25th Anniversary Team, the NBA 35th Anniversary Team, and the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He was also enshrined in the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2007. Russell also won a gold medal captaining the U.S. National Basketball Team at the 1956 Summer Olympics.
He is one of the seven players in NBA History to win an NBA Championship, and an Olympic gold medal, and an NCAA Championship. He was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Russell also coached the Celtics (1966-69), becoming the first black coach in North American professional sports and also the first to win a championship. In 2009, the NBA renamed the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy to Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in Russell's honor.
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