We think this defensive icon deserves even more recognition than he already gets.
A basketball champion with truly inimitable defensive skills, William Felton Russell (known famously as Bill Russell) was an NBA star that transformed the way players defended.
Born on February 12, 1934 in Monroe, Louisiana, U.S., Russell played 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics as the first outstanding defensive centre in the history of the NBA. He was also the very first African American coach of a modern major professional sports team in the U.S. when he was titled the player-coach of the Celtics in the year 1966.
Standing at a shade over 6-foot-9, Russell was one of the strongest defensive athletes the league had ever witnessed. With a remarkable 11 championship wins for the Boston Celtics over the course of his career, this 12x All-Star and 5x MVP posted a sensational 133.64 defensive win shares that made him a true force to be reckoned with.
Born to block
During Russell’s NBA run, the league didn’t track blocks, steals, or defensive rebounds - so no one could say with certainty just how many shots the star center rejected.
But according to J.D. Anderson Celtics24/7, it’s safe to say that the Celtics big man likely averaged between seven and nine blocks per game across his career - and with the knowledge that he was averaging 22.5 rebounds per outing as well, it’s not impractical to assume that at least half of these came on the defensive end.
And on top of that, if you factor in that Russell also likely recorded several steals per night - you can conjure up a more clear understanding of just how power he was as a defender.
Russell is one of the greatest - if not, the greatest
There’s really not much to be debated about Russell’s unrivalled knack for denfending on the court. And if we had the advantage of today’s modern statistics to also take into consideration, this defensive prodigy would probably look even more impressive than he does to us now.
For a full list of greatest NBA defenders of all time, visit Champions Basketball Network.