One year later: Remembering Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell

Boston Celtics (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
Boston Celtics (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images) /

It’s been exactly one year since the world mourned the death of Bill Russell — a Boston Celtics legend and activist. The Hall of Famer is remembered as one of the All-Time greats and winners, in NBA history. 

Boston Celtics icon Bill Russell was born in Monroe, Louisiana in 1934 and attended McClymond’s High School, in Oakland California. After receiving only one scholarship offer in high school, Russell went on to play collegiate basketball at San Fransisco in 1953.

For his career, Russell averaged 20.7 points, and 20.3 rebounds, in 79 career games. The Center led San Fransisco to a 71-8 record, including an undefeated season in 1956. In three seasons, Russell led the University to two national championships, before heading to play in the NBA.

Russell was selected second overall in the 1956 NBA Draft, by the St. Louis Hawks but Celtics coach Red Auerbach traded for Russell, in exchange for Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan.

Landing No 6. turned out to be the best trade in NBA history for the Cs.

From 1956-1969, the Celtics great led the franchise to 11 championships. He was a 5x NBA MVP, 12x All-Star, 4x NBA Rebounding Champion, and NBA All-Defensive First Team, and finished with a career stat line of 15.1 PPG, 22.5 RPG, and 4.3 APG. Russel is tied with Canadiens Legend, Henri Richard, for the most titles won in the history of professional sports. 

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The NBA Center was also part of the NBA Anniversary team (25th, 35th, 50th, and 75th). Russell was an Olympic Gold Medalist and was awarded the NBA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. No 6. announced his retirement from professional basketball on June 30th, 1969.

The Boston Celtics icon became the first Black coach and player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame

The Boston Celtics head coach at the time, Auerbach, retired before the 1966 season. Russell then became a player head coach from 1966-1969. In his final three seasons with Boston, the center led the franchise to a 162-83 record and a 28-18 record in the playoffs. The Celtics great led Boston to two NBA Champions during his coaching tenure, before retiring in the following weeks.

The former NBA legend moved on to other coaching endeavors after his Celtics career. Russell became the Head Coach of the Seattle Supersonics, from 1973-1977, in which he led them to two playoff appearances, and finished with a record of 162-166. He had a short stint as the head coach of the Sacramento Kings, from 1987-1988.

Overall, Bill’s career coaching record was 341-90 and is a Hall of Famer as a player and coach in the NBA.

Bill Russell was known for being more than just a Boston Celtics legend — he was an activist

Russell was a legend on and off the court, in addition to being a civil rights activist. Russell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, awarded by Barack Obama. He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, and fought for equality, rights, stood up in the fight against racism, and paved the way in sports for future athletes.

Celtics star Jaylen Brown recently signed a five-year extension with the team, which is the richest contract in NBA history. In Brown’s post-signing introduction, he praised Russell and has spoken several times about what the legend means to him, the Celtics, and the world.

“I’m excited to represent the city, this organization,” Brown prefaced before saying, “I’m excited to play. Excited to walk in the lives of people like John Carlos, people like Bill Russell, etc. who have paved the way for athletes, just in general, to be able to have platforms.”

Bill Russell is the most winning athlete of all time and was known for being a ferocious defender and rebounder. He ranks at the top of the Celtics’ rankings in rebounds per game, win-shares, and defensive win-shares. The Ionic big man is second behind Wilt Chamberlain in NBA records for total rebounds (21,620).

Russell was one of the most talented players to ever step foot on a basketball court. As of August 2022, the NBA announced No. 6 will be retired league-wide. The Boston Celtics are tied with the Los Angeles Lakers, for the most NBA Championships (17), in large part due to No 6.

A year ago, on July 31, 2022, we lost the Legendary Bill Russell, a pioneer on and off the court. He will forever be remembered, and missed, by Celtics and basketball fans around the world.