Bill Russell | Teen Ink

Bill Russell

June 2, 2008
By Anonymous

William Felton Russell was born in Monroe, LA on February 12, 1934. He was considered one of the greatest defensive players of all time. Through all of his hard work, he helped launch the Celtics into one of the greatest championship runs ever. Before he made it to the NBA, he was the cause of several major rule changes in collegiate basketball.

Bill was not a natural star, he had to work very hard to earn his position on the starting line up on the varsity his senior year. Bill was cut from his junior high school team and did not make it onto the varsity team until his junior year. The only college that offered him a scholarship was the University of San Francisco. While attending USF, Bill became a much better player by practicing day in and day out. He finally made his way onto the varsity team his sophomore year, and during his junior and senior years he helped USF win two NCAA championship titles. During his time playing collegiate basketball, Bill literally changed how basketball was played. Because of his dominance on the court, the free throw lane was widened from ten to twelve feet, and goaltending - touching the ball on its downward arc toward the basket - was made illegal.

Bill was drafted to the St. Louis Hawks, but was immediately traded to the Boston Celtics, where he would soon become one of the most dominant centers in basketball. He missed the first month of his first year as an NBA player to play for the gold medal-winning US Olympic basketball team. When he came back to the Celtics to play, he proved how good he really was; he averaged 19.6 rebounds per game, the best in the league. During his first year in the NBA, he helped lead the Celtics to their first NBA Championship.

While with the Celtics, Russell managed to win five NBA Most Valuable Player award and be selected to twelve All-Star games. He led the Celtics to the greatest championship run in any professional sport: eight consecutive NBA championships. During his career, he won eleven championships in just thirteen years. Bill Russell is considered one of the greatest defensive players to ever play in the NBA.

After Red Auerbach was promoted, Russell became the new head coach for the Boston Celtics. He was the first African-American to coach any major professional sports team, and he also became the first African-American coach to win an NBA championship. Russell was also am advocate for civil rights. He was one of the first well-known people to call himself black instead of “negro”, and he refused to play in a game if he and his other black teammates weren’t offered the same accommodations the others were. Because he was one of the most important people on his team, the NBA quickly fixed it so all of the accommodations were equal.

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This article has 1 comment.

bay_JP SILVER said...
on Apr. 5 2014 at 10:06 pm
bay_JP SILVER, San Francisco, California
5 articles 1 photo 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken.

I am a HUGE USF fan and this is a great essay. He's our crown jewel in San Francisco and I still find it funny that none of these bigger colleges saw what we saw in him. Good job!