Hall of Fame basketball superstar Bill Russell was born in Monroe, Louisiana in 1934. He took the University of San Francisco to consecutive NCAA titles before starting his professional career with the Boston Celtics in 1956. Over his 13-year career, Russell steered the club to 11 champions. Russell retired in 1969 and was inducted into thel Basketball Hall of Fame 6 years later.
Russell standing 6'9" struggled to find playing time on the court at McClymonds High School in Oakland, California. But by his senior year, Russell's game had picked up enough to earn him a starting spot. In the fall of 1952, he tried out as a walk-on at the University of San Francisco, earning a scholarship. It wasn’t long before the Russell proved to be dominating force, with a soft touch and the ability to rebound. During his 3-year varsity career, in which he led the team to consecutive NCAA titles in 1955 and 1956, Russell averaged 20 points per game and 20 rebounds. The man capped his amateur level career by leading the U.S. men’s basketball team to the gold medal at the1956 Melbourne Olympics. In that year's NBA draft, the Boston Celtics put together a deal with the St. Louis Hawks and traded for the draft rights to the young center. The team’s coach, Red Auerbach, knew Russell as the missing piece to what he believed could be a championship roster. With Russell holding down the middle of the floor, the Celtics finished with the best record in the league in 1957. The team went on to win the title over the St. Louis Hawks in a tense 7-game series. It was the start of an championship run for Russell and the Celtics. Over 12 years, the team played in 11 NBA finals, series. Even against more physically imposing centers like Wilt Chamberlain, Russell was a defensive and rebounding phenom. He was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player five different times, and his 21,620 rebounds are second only to Chamberlain’s career mark. Following 1966 season, in which Russell led the Celtics to an eighth consecutive title, Auerbach retired from coaching. Rather than play for somebody else, Russell took over as a player coach, leading the team to two more titles in 1968 and 1969.
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