HH Tournament: (1) Bill Russell vs (9) Rajon Rondo


Bill Russell and Rajon Rondo kick off the second round of the Hardwood Houdini Tournament

The first round of the Hardwood Houdini Tournament concluded on Thursday with a win for Ray Allen. The second round kicks off with a matchup on Side A between Bill Russell and Rajon Rondo. Out of all 16 first round matchups, Rondo was the lone upset as he defeated the eight seed Don Nelson.

In the second round we won’t have the same player preview that we had in the first round. Instead we’ll look at each player’s greatest accomplishment with the Celtics.

Don’t forget that this is based solely off their playing careers with the Boston Celtics. Any coaching or front office experience shouldn’t be taken into account, neither should their collegiate careers or any other NBA teams they may have played for.

Bill Russell – 1975 Hall of Fame Inductee

15.1 PPG, 22.5 RPG, 4.3 APG

13 seasons with Boston, 11x Champion, 12x All-Star, 5x MVP, #6 Retired by Celtics

The great Bill Russell is one of the best centers in NBA history. He’s arguably the most dominating rebounder and shot blocker the league has ever seen, but he’s mostly known for one thing – winning. He led the Celtics through 13 years of complete dominance, something the league has never and likely will never see again.

Despite not being named as an All-Star as a rookie, Russell helped lead his team to a championship. He failed to win a championship in 1957-58, however that was only one of two seasons he failed to win a title. 11 championships in 13 seasons sounds ridiculous. It sounds like the kind of dominance that could only happen while playing NBA2K.

Although, in my mind, the most daunting stretch of time in Russell’s career came during the 1960s when he won nine of ten possible championships. There have been great teams in every sport, but none have dominated a whole decade like the Bill Russell led Boston Celtics. Think about how much Michael Jordan‘s two three-peats are still talked about, the Celtics in the 1960’s won the equivalent of three three-peats.

You can throw all the stats you want at someone about Bill Russell but 11 championships in 13 years is all you really need to say. There has never been as dominating of a stretch in professional sports history. There are many great players who never won one championship, let alone more rings than can fit on a person’s two hands. In the end, everyone just wants to win, and there was no one better at it than Bill Russell.

Rajon Rondo – 4x All-Star

11 PPG, 8.5 APG, 4.7 RPG, 1.9 APG

9 Seasons with Boston, 1x Champion, 4x All-Star

Rajon Rondo started all 77 games he played in during the Celtics 2008 championship run, however he’s a mere afterthought on that team. He didn’t reach the peak of his career until a couple of years later as the Big Three’s production started to decrease. That’s why Rondo leading the league in assists per game for two straight seasons is the accomplishment that best highlights his time with Boston.

He played a key role in the Celtics championship run, but he’ll be remembered as one of the best passers of his era when he played with Boston. Despite never being a great scorer, Rondo is one of the few modern-day point guards who prides himself on racking up assists. There are still plenty of great passers in the NBA but point guards are looked to as scorers nowadays rather than as passers.

With the Celtics, no point guard was better at setting up his teammates than Rajon Rondo. He led the league in assists per game for two straight season – 2011-13. In 2011-12, he averaged an incredible 11.7 assists per game.

As amazing as some of his passes were during his eight and a half seasons with the Celtics, it’s hard to build around a pass-first point guard when he has no shooters to pass to. His amazing ability to set-up teammates was on full display with Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett starting alongside him, but the Big Three broke up.

Even though Rondo wasn’t someone who Boston felt they could build around, he was the perfect point guard during the Big Three era. He didn’t worry about his shots rather wanted to set-up his teammates that were brought in to score.

Don’t forget to vote on Twitter @HoudiniCeltics! The poll is up for 20 hours. Comments on here don’t count as votes, only the poll on Twitter will be looked at to determine who goes on to round two.

Next: Isaiah Thomas Not Happy With 2K Rating

Also, look at tomorrow’s match-up to see the results from today’s showdown.