The biggest winner in the NBA since its inception, defender of all time, leader of a dynasty whose dominance is still unmatched, Bill Russell undoubtedly has the necessary arguments to sit at the table of the greatest players in the history of our sport. . But specifically, what place does the Celtics center occupy in the latter? It’s time to get out our magnifying glasses to look at the issue.
This is a question that we would have liked to ask ourselves in other circumstances. Following the death of Bill Russell last night at the age of 88, the memories, anecdotes, achievements of the latter resurface together to remind us how the center of the Celtics was an extraordinary player, both literally and figuratively. For some, Whiskers is the best player in NBA history because he has won the most titles. Audible reasoning, but too simplistic. For others, he shouldn’t even be in this discussion due to the era he was playing in, whose level of play is apparently negligible. Audible reasoning, but too simplistic too. Throughout his life, Bill Russell never failed to shine, becoming an orange ball legend in many ways.
By now, as the vast majority of fans probably know, Billou remains to this day the human who has won the most NBA championship titles, with eleven bagouzes on his fingers in just thirteen seasons. meThere is still a big chance that no one can achieve such a performance. And we didn’t even mention the fact that of these eleven banners, eight of them were hanging in a row from the ceiling of the TD Garden. When we see that not even Stephen Curry’s Warriors achieve a three pipes…And let’s not forget that the Finals MVP was not named at the time. If Michael Jordan can therefore today boast of being the only one to have been named six times, there is a world in which Mister Russell has almost twice as many. Because yes, whether we like it or not, The Stuffer is the undisputed leader of one of the greatest dynasties in history, or at least one of the most victorious: the Celtics of the 1960s. Of the best teams, inevitably, you get the Type. in the upper echelons of the Major Leagues.
Perhaps more than anyone else, Bill knew what it took to win and what it took to lead. On the court, he was the greatest champion in basketball history. Other than that, he was a pioneer for civil rights: he marched with Dr. King and stood up with Muhammad Ali.
—Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 31, 2022
And if only there were the rings… Individually, The Good Lord was named MVP five times, a fairly closed club since only MJ (5) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6) accompany him. Aside from his rookie season where he’s warming up, he’ll be named an All-Star every season, twelve times. Beyond the purely technical aspect, it is therefore a real recognition that benefits the pivot, that of a player who, despite an oiled squad behind him, is considered a monster in his own right. Wilt Chamberlain may have gone 50/25 during the 1961-62 season, but it was Bilou who was named MVP because he was the boss. The boss, he always was, regardless of the circumstances. In 1968 and then in 1969, he even allowed himself to become the first man to become a champion as a player AND manager. Shaq himself confesses that he would never dare to compare himself with his predecessor. Because who would dare to say that what he achieved was simple? Who would dare to say that without him the C’s would have dominated so much? There are questions that we have the right to ask ourselves, but there are also truths that we cannot question.
A upside down, so there are things we can’t pretend not to see. Yes, there is more talent in the NBA than then. But what could be more normal since almost 60 years have passed and the boys played in Converse at 40,000 an hour. There’s no need to compare, so we’ll agree on that. But we can analyze, dissect, and realize that in an era also populated by potential Hall of Famers, Billou dominated like few others have. In defence? We’re probably talking about the guy who made winning titles a must. If the chips were counted? We can tell you that we know someone who blocked the stat line. And when you are the first to do something that has become commonplace today, you are simply a forerunner, a pioneer who paved the way for a new form of basketball, a whole new sport, in fact. So yes, Bill Russell wasn’t a flamboyant forward, just 15.1 points per game for his career on 44% shooting, but in style he was the best. With 21,620 receptions, he is the second-highest rebounder in NBA history. The only player in the top 10 who has never reached 1,000 games played, he is however well ahead of the illustrious Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in third. As so often in the field, only Wilt Chamberlain manages to stand up to him.
Having said all this, what do these elements indicate when it comes to classifying the best players who have passed through the NBA?
Bill Russell’s career is arguably something that will never happen twice. Centers have obviously outrageously dominated the game, from rival Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul Jabbar, not forgetting, of course, Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal. What else does Russell have? Of course, titles. In most cases, individual distinctions as well. We know this quite well: ranking a player based on his trophies is one criterion, but it’s not the only one. In contribution to the sport and to the league, Bill Russell clearly has more cards. Of course, he preceded the other names written before, but theirs also and above all paved the way. In an NBA that was also light years ahead of everyone else, but his dominance and his advance over his time were simply indecent. Without Russell? The NBA wouldn’t have taken to the notion of defense so quickly, with so much interest. Man has made it imperative to be efficient when it comes to protecting your basket. Where he should be in an all-time ranking is highly subjective, but it would be anything but correct to place M’sieur Bill outside the top 10. When it comes time to make the Top 100 All Time, our two (h) Experts Bastien and Alex have also placed The Stuffer in 7th and 6th position respectively. Again, it’s up to you to make your choice, but very few players today can claim to be ahead of Russell on that list.
From his first NCAA titles to official awards for all his work, Bill Russell will have left an indelible mark on the NBA, sports and even history with a capital “H”. If it is impossible to say the exact place he occupies in a ranking of the best players in the League, it is difficult to imagine such a legend outside the top 10, and some will even tell you that it is impossible to find five players who have scored more in basketball than him. .
Source: NBA, ESPN
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