The top 3 greatest performances from Boston Celtics legend, Bill Russell

Feb 1967; Unknown location, USA; FILE PHOTO; Boston Celtics center Bill Russell (6) in action against Cincinnati Royals center Connie Dierking (24) during the 1966-67 season. Mandatory Credit: Tony Tomsic-USA TODAY NETWORK
Feb 1967; Unknown location, USA; FILE PHOTO; Boston Celtics center Bill Russell (6) in action against Cincinnati Royals center Connie Dierking (24) during the 1966-67 season. Mandatory Credit: Tony Tomsic-USA TODAY NETWORK /

July 31st will go down in history as one of the saddest days in Boston Celtics and, frankly, sports history, as somber news broke that 11x NBA Champion, Bill Russell, passed away at the age of 88.

The longtime C’s legend was the cornerstone of the team’s dynasty spanning from the late 1950s to the late 1960s, as he spearheaded the charge towards winning eight straight titles and eleven titles overall during this stretch.

Russell passed peacefully alongside his wife Jeannine. The cause of his death is still unknown, but his friends and family thanked the fans for keeping him in their thoughts and prayers.

The all-time great won more rings consecutively than any other MVPs in league history have won in their careers, while his 11 titles are tied for the most by any athlete in any of the four major North American professional sports, with the list of the top-5 winningest athletes reading as follows:

  1. Bill Russell (NBA) – 11 Titles
  2. Henri Richard (NHL) – 11 Titles
  3. Jean Beliveau (NHL) – 10 Titles
  4. Yogi Berra (MLB) – 10 Titles
  5. Sam Jones (NBA) – 10 Titles

Throughout his 13-year professional career, there were an unbelievable amount of highlight performances put forth by the Boston Celtics icon, and, today, we discuss 3, in specific, that could be argued as being his best:

1962 NBA Finals Game 7: Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers

On April 18, 1962, the two most storied franchises in NBA history would face off in Game 7 for the 1962 NBA title.

The Boston Celtics led by Bill Russell and the Los Angeles Lakers led by Elgin Baylor and Jerry West battled it out for the chip.

By this time, the C’s had established themselves as an absolute dynasty, winning three titles during the previous three campaigns. During this specific NBA Finals showdown, Baylor averaged 41 points per game while West was averaging 31 points per game, and it still was not enough to bring down the great Bill Russell.

Throughout the Finals, Russell was averaging 21.7 points and a blistering 24.8 rebounds, but nothing tops his Game 7 outburst.

The center scored 30 points and gobbled up 40 boards as the Celtics defeated the Lakers 110-107 in overtime. Russell’s rebounding performance is an NBA Finals record, and, realistically, that record may never be broken.

Also, his 19 boards in the fourth quarter are still the record for boards in a single quarter in any game–regular-season or playoffs.

As a team, Boston had 82 rebounds in their Game 7 victory and Russell accounted for 48.8 percent of them.

Besides his 30 points and 40 rebounds, Russell’s clutch free throw performance was the key to the series-clinching victory.

In Game 7, the big man made 14 of his 17 attempts from the line, tying his career high in the process.

During the 1961-62 season, Russell shot 59.5 percent from the charity stripe and had a career free-throw percentage of 56.1 percent, but in Game 7 he shot 82.4 percent from the line.

His clutch free-throw shooting was a HUGE factor in the C’s 3-point victory.

1957 NBA Finals Game 7: Boston Celtics vs. St. Louis Hawks

At the age of 22, Bill Russell won his first NBA championship, as he and the Boston Celtics beat Bob Pettit and the St. Louis Hawks 125-123 in Game 7 of the 1957 title round.

During the series, Pettit averaged 30 points and 18 rebounds per game, but that amazing performance was still not enough to defeat Russell and the C’s.

Russell set a rookie record for rebounds in an NBA Finals game with 32, helping the Celtics capture a double-overtime victory. He also went on to set the rookie record of 22.9 rebounds per game in the Finals.

Game 7 remains the only final bout in history to be decided in double-overtime.

Russell’s determination and focus to stop any scorer who tried to challenge him would be the focal point of his career. This series winner would be the start of Russell’s 11 NBA titles.

1969 NBA Finals Game 7: Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers

To this day, the 1969 NBA Finals is one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. The aging Boston Celtics defeated the heavily favored Los Angeles led by Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, and Jerry West.

In 1969, the C’s barely made the playoffs. They made the playoffs as the fourth-place team in the Eastern Conference.

Their 108-106 victory in Game 7 would cap the final championship of the Bill Russell era.

Jerry West would go down in history as the first player to win the Most Valuable Player award despite being on the losing team.

Also, the 1969 Finals would mark the first time in NBA history that a Game 7 was won by a road team.

During that season, Russell was not only a player, but he was also the head coach. When Red Auerbach retired in 1966, the Boston Celtics targeted Russell to lead the team. In the last two years of Russell’s career, he served as the first black head coach in sports history.

Russell would go down in history as the first black head coach to win an NBA title with their series win in ’69.

May this all-time legend rest in peace

During the 1950s and 60s, box scores were limited, and the statistics will never tell the full story of Russell’s career.

Off the court, he was an outspoken activist during the civil rights movement.

Russell went on to march alongside Martin Luther King Jr. in pursuit of equal rights and was a constant fighter for justice.

According to, “he swam upstream in every way — there’s never been his equal as a player, a winner, and a fighter for civil rights in the 75-year history of the NBA.”

Bill Russell had one mission as a player, to win every game of every year. That is a tall task for anyone, but for him, it seemed quite possible.

Russell carried a tremendous amount of weight when discussing civil rights. As a kid, his mother always told him to stand up for himself and he carried that advice throughout his career.

For his ongoing battle with civil rights, Russell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. He was more than an NBA/ Boston Celtics legend–he was a world icon, and his knowledge and experience will be greatly missed.

Rest easy Mr. Russell, your legacy will live on forever!

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