On Sunday, Bill Russell, the foundation of the Boston Celtics dynasty, passed away within the presence of his family at the age of 88. The five-time NBA MVP played his whole career with the Cs. Not just that, Russell helped the franchise win a whooping 11 NBA championships. He also led Boston to eight consecutive rings between 1959-66. He averaged 15-1 points and 22.5 rebounds per game. The 12-time NBA All-Star was a part of a fierce rivalry with Walt Chamberlain, beating him in all finals they played against each other.
However, Bill was more than an on-court legend. He actively fought for social justice and Black rights off the court and was honored as the first Black NBA Hall of Famer in 1975. Fighting for civil rights, Russell received the Presidential Medal of freedom from former President Barack Obama in 2011. Moreover, Bill also became the first Black coach in the NBA and fulfilled the responsibility at Boston Celtics, Seattle SuperSonics, and Sacramento Kings.
Russell’s family shared a statement on social media revealing that the most prolific winner in American sports history passed away peacefully at the age of 88 with his wife Jeannine by his side. Moreover, the statement suggested that amid all the winning, Bill’s understanding of the struggles is what brightened his life. He boycotted the 1961 exhibition game to expose the long-time discrimination.
Also, Russell led the Mississippi’s first integrated basketball camp soon after Medgar Ever’s assassination. The statement added that Bill spoke openly against injustice unforgivingly to disrupt the status quo. The Celtics superstar set a powerful example that would inspire teamwork, selflessness, and thoughtful change. So let’s take a look at some of the unknown facts about Bill Russell.
Some Unknown Facts About Bill Russell
- Bill Russell was mistakenly recognized as Morgan Freeman during Barack Obama’s second presidential inauguration.
2. Russell never shot about 50% from the field throughout his 13 NBA seasons with the Celtics.
3. The Louisiana resident holds the NBA finals single-game record for the most (40) rebounds in the league history.
4. During his rookie season in 1957-58, Russell became the first player in the league history to average above 20 rebounds per game for the whole season.
5. Bill made it to the elite list of elite players to win the NCAA and NBA championships in a row. Only four players have ever achieved the feat, including Henry Bibby, Magic Johnson, and Billy Thompson.
6. Russell has a staggering win-loss record of 11-0 in series deciders. He went 10-0 in Game 7s and 1-0 in Game 5.
7. Surprisingly, the 11-time NBA champ hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live in the year 1979. He anchored the third episode of the fifth season, with Chicago being the musical guest. Moreover, Russell also had a cameo in an episode of Miami Vice as a crooked judge/father of an FIU basketball star.
8. Russell finished with the second highest 21,620 career rebounds, behind his fierce rival Wilt Chamberlain, who leads the record with 23,924 rebounds. However, Bill managed to get an edge over Chamberlain during crucial stages of the tournament and won the finals against him every time.
9. In 1980, the PBWAA voted Bill Russell as the greatest player in NBA history. Back in the day, performing like Russell did was considered otherworldly. However, the influence that Russell had on the game and the league cannot be matched by the modern greats of Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
10. Shockingly, Russell once pulled off 51 rebounds in a single game. The former center bagged 49 rebounds in two other games and secured over 1000 rebounds in 12 consecutive seasons.