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June 30- Bill Russell Retires from the NBA

1969- On this day in Sports History, Bill Russell retired from the NBA after an incredible 13 year Hall of Fame career. He spent his whole career as a center for the Boston Celtics and led them to 11 NBA Championships in 13 seasons. Bill Russell and the Celtics were an NBA dynasty as they won eight straight NBA Championships. The 11 NBA Championships came in 1957, 1959-1966, 1968, and 1969. It is the most NBA Championships ever won by a player in their career. Russell was widely considered the best basketball player in NBA history until Michael Jordan came into the league.

Dick Raphael | NBAE via Getty Images

Bill Russell was born in Louisiana in 1934. His family moved to California and he attended high school in Oakland. He’d then go on to earn a scholarship at the University of San Francisco where he turned into a great basketball player. He led his team to NCAA Championships in 1955 and 1956. The Boston Celtics traded with the St. Louis Hawks to move up to the second spot in the draft to pick Bill Russell. The Celtics sent Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagen to the Hawks for their second draft pick. Although the trade helped the St. Louis Hawks win the 1958 NBA Championship, it helped the Celtics the most as they built a dynasty with 11 NBA Championships.

The Celtics won the 1957 NBA Championship in Bill Russell’s rookie year. They won it again in 1959, and every year after that until 1966. The Celtics had to beat some great players and teams enroute to eight straight championships. Some of their great adversaries were Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and the Lakers, and the St. Louis Hawks. The Celtics won back-to-back NBA Championships in 1968 and 1969 for Russell’s tenth and eleventh NBA Championships.

Bill Russell was best known for his defense and team basketball play in an era that had a lot of high scoring offense. He was an excellent shot blocker and rebounder. He averaged 22.5 rebounds a game in his 13 year career, including 24.7 rebounds a game in the 1974 season. He also had an astounding 51 rebounds in a single game. There are no blocked shots stats for Russell as blocked shots didn’t become an official NBA stat until 1973.

Bill Russell’s individual accolades include five NBA MVP awards and 12 All-Star Game selections. His eleven NBA Championships in 13 seasons are the most of any player in history. In 1980, the Professional Basketball Writers Association named him the Greatest Player in NBA History. His incredible Hall of Fame career came to an end with his retirement on this day in 1969.

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Sources:

“Legends Profile: Bill Russell.” NBA.com, NBA, 24 Aug. 2017

“Bill Russell Stats.” Basketball Reference


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