HH Tournament: (1) Bill Russell vs (5) Robert Parish


Two of the greatest centers in NBA history is the first matchup of the Elite Eight

Bill Russell and Robert Parish are two of the greatest centers to ever play the game. They’re also the first matchup of the Hardwood Houdini Tournament’s Elite Eight. The winner will be the first player to advance to the Final Four.

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

Bill Russell led the league in rebounding six years over his amazing 13-year career. Although, during the best season of his career he didn’t. In 1960-61, Bill Russell pulled down an astonishing 40 rebounds in one game, tied for the sixth best rebounding performance of his career.

In the season as a whole, Russell averaged 16.9 points and 23.9 rebounds per game. He only shot 42.6 percent from the field, however his defensive prowess and impact on the glass made up for any lack of consistent shooting. Besides, he still averaged 16.9 points per night that season and 15.1 points during his career.

While those numbers are absolutely insane to look at, he cemented this season as his best during the postseason. He won his fourth of 11 championships while playing 46.2 minutes per game over 10 games. Russell only shot 42.7 percent during the playoff run, but his points per game improved to 19.1 per night. Just as you would expect from an 11-time NBA champion, Russell’s game only improved when the spotlight was on him and the Boston Celtics.

Along with his 19.1 points per game, Russell averaged 29.9 rebounds per night, leading the playoffs that year. He had more total rebounds in other playoff runs, however there wasn’t a more efficient stretch on the glass than during the 1960-61 playoffs. In just 10 games, Russell was able to grab 299 rebounds.

Despite it being a different era, that’s still an unreal amount. Advanced analytics and defensive stats weren’t around back then, but you don’t need them to tell that Russell’s 1960-61 playoff run was one of the most dominating stretches on the glass the NBA has ever seen.

In a career that featured 11 championships, it’s hard to pick just one season that stands out the most. Although, it was one of his best scoring regular seasons as he topped 16 points per game for the fourth straight season, on his way to six consecutive. But there is no arguing 29.9 rebounds per game, which only exemplifies his rebounding ability.

Robert Parish – 2003 Hall of Fame Inductee

16.5 PPG, 10 RPG, 1.5 BPG

14 Seasons with Boston, 3x Champion, 9x All-Star, #00 Retired by Celtics

Robert Parish averaged an astounding 16.5 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game with the Celtics, but no season during his 14-year tenure with Boston stood out more than his second season with the team.

In 1981-82, Parish made the All-Star team for the second consecutive season. He averaged a career-high 19.9 points per game to go along with 10.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per contest. You can make the case that his career-high 12.5 rebounds per contest in 1988-89 as a 35-year-old was more impressive, but Parish’s defense during the 1982 cements this as his best season in Boston.

Parish added to his great regular season with an even better postseason. A year following his first championship with the Celtics, Parish was even more efficient in the playoffs. He contributed 21.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and an amazing four blocks per game. All were career bests in the postseason and he led the playoffs in blocks that year, as well.

Despite the Celtics failing to win the title that year, Parish blocked an incredible 48 shots during 12 games. If Parish was a team last season, he would have averaged more blocks per game than five teams and tied with the Brooklyn Nets.

Parish was always a dominating defensive center, however none more so than during the 1981-82 playoffs. The Celtics could have easily beaten the Atlanta Hawks last season if they had his rim protection down low.

Parish was always a rebounding and defensive-minded center, but in 1981-82 he also thrived on offense. He was just 0.1 points per game under 20 points and it was the only team he topped 20 points per night in the postseason. There was never a year Parish wasn’t an important part to the Celtics success, but his added offensive game that season was something not seen every year from him.

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 the Elite Eight.

Next: Boston Celtics: Danny Ainge's Target Year is 2017-18

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