Bill Russell : 10 chiffres pour éclairer une carrière extraordinaire

Bill Russell 1 août 2022

It’s been a whole night, but the pain is still there when we woke up this morning. No, it’s not a bad dream: Bill Russell died this Sunday, July 31, 2022 in peace with his wife Jeannine. The NBA has lost one of its best players. A champion, an ambassador, a fighter… simply a role model. His life will have marked ours in many ways, forever. That’s why we told ourselves that the one who for almost six decades scared accountants well deserved to reconsider his career in ten figures. Come on, the heart is heavy but it’s not about losing the smile.


As he comes from the NCAA where his title run has already begun, Bill Russell will not be selected in the first position or by the Celtics. And yes, during this 1956 Draft, it is Sihugo “Si” Green who will become the first pick, chosen by the Rochester Royals. Bilou is therefore selected second by the St-Louis Hawks… who will loan him to Boston against Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan. There, we really started to believe that there was a contest that year to see who was capable of making the worst decisions. Eager to integrate Russell into his roster for his defensive skills, which were groundbreaking at the time, Red Auerbach is delighted to welcome the center back. During this same Draft, the Celtics will also select two other Hall of Famers: KC Jones and John Heinsohn. That’s how with a little bit of madness and ambition, but especially drunken opponents on Draft night, we created the most successful dynasty of all time.


A To tell the truth, this number does not correspond to an average, but to two. Read instead. Although he spent thirteen seasons as an NBA player, Bill Russell never averaged more than 19 points. His best goalscoring campaign? Fiscal year 1961-62, where he finished with 18.9 points. So yeah, it’s not bad anymore, but rookies might think it’s not enough for someone who is considered one of the greatest players of all time. Wait, it’s not over. A In contrast, Bill the Hill will only get one season under 19…rebounds on average. Oh no no no need to reload the page, you read very well. Does your little shot less well? The 1967-1968 campaign, where he, at 33 years old, swallowed only 18.6 missed shots per game. LOL. On a more serious note, the stat is insane, because a little rebound game off the forecastle would be a masterclass every night in today’s NBA. And to think that Andre Drummond is considered the greatest rebounder of all time… Even up there, you can still hear Bilou laughing about it.


Okay, in peace both to talk about rebounds, and to go to the end of things. So no, once again it is important to specify: 21,620 is not the number of points scored by Russell in his career, but the number of bounces which he captured in total in thirteen years. So yes, his great rival Wilt Chamberlain caught even more (23,924), well, boy, what. We’re still talking about a guy who grabbed more rebounds than Tony Parker, Isiah Thomas or even George Gervin scored points each. Even Larry Bird came close to falling behind with “only” 21,791 points. No, you know what, we’ll do it again. Of the 4,711 players who have graced an NBA court to date, 4,675 have scored fewer points than Bill Russell rebounded, or about 99.2%. Are we really capable of imagining what these numbers mean? Especially since the guy accomplished all of this in just thirteen seasons. It’s simple, in the top 10 of the greatest rebounders in history, he is the only one who has never exceeded the bar of 1,000 games played (963). crazy respect Russian.


Known and recognized for the number of titles he won throughout his career, and to which we will of course return, Bill Russell has another record of eleven units that will be very difficult to achieve. Is LeBron very strong in win-or-go-home games? Certainly, but here’s the drill master: With the Celtics, the center won 10 games 7-for-10 and one game 5-for-1. He’ll either be a good 11/11 at the end of the Playoff series. We could already say that the performance is crazy, but if we add to that the games in university and the Olympics, we arrive at a total of 21/21 in matches with similar bets. Basically, every opponent who faced Bilou in a final fight lost. The pressure ? One wonders if this term existed at the time of Whiskers, which was obviously not too affected by the latter. So we’re waiting to see who will be the first to match these eleven wins, let alone achieve 100%. Our little finger tells us that it can take a long time, even a long time.


If we ask you what is the first thing you think when someone says “Bill Russell”, surely there will be a few of you to answer us “eleven championships”. Here, therefore, we wanted to look even broader, because The Stuffer is not just a great NBA champion. In addition to his eleven Big League rings with Boston (a record that will likely never be matched), the kid also won two NCAA titles with the San Francisco Dons and an Olympic title with Team USA while still in college. This gives us, therefore, a total of fourteen titles on the counter. Does indecency have limits? We could also have told you that Billou’s Celtics have risen eight times in a row to the top of the Playoffs, or that the latter has won the last two titles of this crazy streak as a player AND team manager. but we think that either you already know all these figures, or you are overwhelmed by so many greatness. It’s very simple: we will almost certainly never see that again. And on the one hand much better, because the suspense is also good.


How do you imagine writing an article titled “Bill Russell in Ten Figures” without including… his own number? Because Bill Russell’s jersey has not only marked an entire generation of basketball players, it is an untouchable relic that will continue to cross the history of the NBA, even now that it is gone. Two teams have also decided to remove the flocked tunic with the name “Russell” followed by a “6”. The Boston Celtics even retired him…twice. A first time in 1972 during a ceremony in which Bilou did not want to participate because of his fight for blacks. A second time in 1999, where the legend was present alongside Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird or even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Number 6 was also retired by the San Francisco Dons, where Russell played from 1953 to 1956 in the NCAA. It’s no surprise considering how much the center dominated his contemporaries, taking home the only two championships in college history. What a man.


Among the multitude of stories, moments or anecdotes surrounding Bill Russell’s fight for the African-American community, there is one that is particularly revealing of the gentleman’s strength of character. In fact, like everyone before and after him, Russ was to receive a ring on the occasion of his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1975. However, it will take 44 years before the latter receives it. The reason ? Bilou simply refused such an honor. It was inconceivable for him to be the first black player to join this temple of basketball, and he waited for the right moment to accept it. So it was on the occasion of the 2019 induction of Chuck Cooper, the first black player drafted in 1950, that the former C’s center resolved to finally host a private ceremony to receive his bagouze l peace of mind, the same year. A certainly symbolic gesture, but one that says a lot about the character, whose conviction commands respect.


Even if that means staying in the “Hall of Fame” theme, it might as well reveal everyone Bill Russell is a part of. Not one, two or three, but four! Once again, the guy manages to do several times what some would dream of achieving even just once. Well, you understood, in 1975 the interior was part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the best known, which brings together the greatest legends of our sport, and in particular of the NBA. In 2006, for his college career, he was inducted into the National College Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the inaugural class alongside James Naismith, Oscar Robertson, Dean Smith and John Wooden. In very good company. The following year, it was the turn of the FIBA ​​Hall of Fame, created in 1991, to induct him into the newly built museum as a member of the “founding class”. Finally, last year, the latter returned to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, but this time as a coach, since he was the first black coach in NBA history. We almost want to tell you that he does not surprise us, even if it is complete madness …


Yes, so there we may have gone a little out of the rule since there is not a single number but four. Some of you may have guessed what they meant… These are the “anniversary” NBA teams that Mister Russell was a part of. We could have written “all” instead of all these numbers since, by definition, Bilou has always been included. In 1971, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Major League, Whiskers was already there, having retired two years earlier. Bis repeated in 1980 on the occasion of 35 years. In the famous list of the 50 best players of all time presented in 1996? Obviously, the pivot is a no-brainer. And when, this season, the 75th in the NBA, a new roster of 75 names is revealed, Bill Russell is there. However, if he was unable to physically go to the organized ceremony, the latter is nevertheless the first name that is announced among the centers. The symbol is very strong for someone who was a pioneer in every way and paved the way for many legends.


As you may have noticed, the numbers in this article have been announced chronologically, or at least approximately. So it’s quite normal to close this article at number 88, the age Bill Russell died. His career, his fights, his life, were more than impressive. More than a source of inspiration, the pivot was a model at a sporting level, but also a human one. Although it is important to pay tribute to him, a thousand stories would not be enough to describe the legacy he leaves behind. Without Bill Russell, Shaquille O’Neal’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar might never have existed. by Javale McGee and many others. In the face of such a legend, we can only bow. His smile will no longer accompany us, but his joy of living and his strength will continue to animate the world of the orange ball for eternity. Et on ne peut s’empêcher de l’imaginer là-haut, retrouver certains de ses anciens coéquipiers aux Celtics et Wilt, pour un énième remake dantesque du meilleur des années 60. Finally, il ne nous a pas quitté, il est juste parti a little further.

Good riddance Bill, we miss you already. A legendary career, which will remain forever as one of those that opened the doors to many things in the history of the league.

Sources: ESPN,, Hall of Fame.

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