I'm sure plenty of you have already begun writing your complaints about Jordan even being mentioned in the same sentence as the number "two," but hear me out before you unleash a barrage of criticisms. Russell averaged over 15pts, 22rebs, and 4assts a game. These numbers are misleading though, as a vital statistical category which contributed heavily to Russell’s legacy was not even kept track of during his era: blocks. Referees and reports though, estimated that Russell averaged 6bpg—on the low end. But, for the purpose of this article, I will agree to stick with this conservative statistic. Call it speculation if you want, but when so many individuals witnessed Russell throughout the entirety of his career and came to a near consensus, I’m willing to bet on it. Aside from in-game statistics, the man had as many accolades as he could during his time period (I’ll address the specifics of that statement below). 12 All-Star games, 11 1st and 2nd Team All-NBA selections, 5 MVP’s, and a record 11 NBA Championships. There are a few caveats that I should mention before you begin to analyze these accomplishments:
1. His eight 2nd All-NBA selections were only due to the fact that he played in the same era as arguably the most dominant center of all-time. For God’s sake 3 of the 5 times he won MVP he was on the 2nd All-NBA Team! Imagine if Derrick Rose, LeBron James, or Kobe Bryant was ever named the MVP of the league and then proceeded to be placed on the 2nd All-NBA team—the league would have more dumbfounded fans and complaint mail then they’d know what to do with!
2. Bill Russell never won a Finals MVP Trophy, but not because his on-court performances were not adequate enough for the trophy, but because it did not exist. As a matter of fact, when the trophy did come into existence it received the name the “Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award.” Russell’s second home was the Finals—his name was practically synonymous with the series—so it was only appropriate to give the award his name.
3. Lastly, I'm guessing many of you are wondering why he never won an NBA Defensive Player of the year award, or multiple All-NBA Defensive 1st Team selections for that matter. Again the absence of the accolade in Russell’s trophy case has less to do with Russell’s performance on the court and more to do with the non-existent nature of the award. The first year the All-NBA Defensive 1st Team award was presented (Russell’s last season) he received a nomination.
The man is second all-time in MVP's and first all-time in championships won as a player (not to mention that he won 2 of those championships as a player/coach), which is enough to dub him as the premiere face on basketball’s Mount Rushmore.
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