Bill Russell Is Better Than Michael Jordan?

Richard TanzilContributor IJanuary 14, 2010

I respect Jordan's skills and achievements and i consider him as one of the greatest (but NOT the Greatest) but i just dont like him. He was an OVERHYPED, pampered marketing tool used by David $tern and corporate America.

Deconstructing Jordan:


Unlike Bill Russell who is a civil rights activist, Jordan distanced himself from controversial issues. Unlike Chris Webber who quarreled with Nike on the company's sweat shop issues and inflated prices, Jordan did NOTHING.

"If [sports stars] can sell these wares with the power of their personas, they also can sell civic responsibility with the power of their personas."
--- Jesse Jackson

Jordan's little gambling addiction:


Mind you, Pete Rose ain't going into the Baseball Hall of Fame because of his gambling problems.

You say we should like this guy Jordan for WHO HE IS? Well, Jordan is a compulsive gambler, a marketing tool and numb to social issues. Is this really the kind of role model you'd want?

Dont bring up Jordan's life away from the basketball court because its just plain ugly.

Especially when you compare it to the life of a social activist and African-American sports pioneer like Bill Russell.

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Lets just say that the MUCH older generation (pre- 90's Jordan era and pre-80's Bird and Magic era) doesnt think that Jordan is the GREATEST. The most hyped and most marketed player, yes. A great player? Yes. The greatest? Hell no.

This MUCH older generation of b-ball subscribes to the idea that one Bill Russell who was voted as the Greatest NBA Player of all time back in the NBA's 35th anniversary in 1980 and the winner of 5 MVP's, numerous rebounding records and 11 championship rings, 2 of which came during his tenure as PLAYERcoach, is the TRUE greatest NBA player of all time (or his statistically dominant rival, Señor Wilt Chamberlain).

In terms of achievements, Jordan is NOT the greatest.

Bill Russell: 5 MVP's, 11 rings in 13 years as a pro.
Michael Jordan: 5 MVP's, 6 rings in 15 years as a pro.

Bill Russell: 1 NCAA MOP, 2 NCAA titles in 3 years of college.
Michael Jordan: 0 NCAA MOP, 1 NCAA titles* in 3 years of college.

* As a roleplayer to James Worthy's 1982 UNC NCAA championship team. Worthy is the superstar leader of that UNC championship team and is the winner of the MOP for that year.

As you could see, Bill Russell has achieved MORE in less time than Jordan.

And saying that Russell played in a "raw" era in the 60's and Jordan played in an era where basketball skills are "perfected" is just plain era/time bias. Thirty years from now, people would look down at the 90's, the Jordan era, and simply label the players of the 90's as having "raw" basketball skills.

This is for those of you who think that Russell is overrated


Comparison between Michael Jordan and Bill Russel

6 NBA Titles: (Pathetic, Russell has 11)

6 NBA Finals MVPs: (Finals MVP were only given during Russell's last year and was given as a consolation prize to the brave but heavily injured Jerry West. This marks as the first and only time that the Finals MVP was given to a player from the losing team. The award came with a Dodge pickup and, annoyingly for West, was colored Celtic green arguably in anticipation that the recepient would come from the winning team. Had Finals MVP been given much earlier, Russ would have won more. In fact, Jerry West (and his coach/general manager Fred Schaus) who lost 6 Finals encounter with Russ consider him as their most dangerous opponent, thats not counting the 4 Finals trip in which Russ left Bob Petit and the Hawks dazed and confused.)

6 NBA Finals Appearances: (Pathetic, Russell has 12)

He's 6-0 (UNDEFEATED) in the NBA Finals. He also never been in a game 7 in the NBA Finals (that shows DOMINANCE). But Russell, he have a LOSS and several game 7's in the NBA Finals (meaning Jordan was more unstoppable).
-Unstoppable my as$. Again youre missing the big picture. Jordan is NO POSITION to brag since he only made 6 trips to the Finals in his 15 year career (40% chance of going to the Finals, Russ is 91%). Russell is 11 for 12 in 13 years. Russ is a champion from his rookie year to his last. Whose more dominating again?

5 NBA MVPs: (Russell has 5 too and would have been more, if not his role as a player coach blur the impact of his two duties. Its hard to attribute the Celtic's success to Russell as the coach or Russell as the player)

1 NCAA Title (his shot sealed the deal): (Russell has 2, with a 55 game winning streak with an average winning margin of 15 during his senior years. No game winning shots needed. Unlike Jordan who is but a Robert Horry-role player on James Worthy's 1982 NCAA champion UNC team, Russell is the star and leader of his championship team.)

2 Olympic Gold Medals (84, 92): (Russell has only one in 1956. Pros were banned from playing the Olympics until iirc FIBA lifted it on 1989 w/c made it possible for the Dream Team, hence Jordan's 2nd gold medal. Had it been lifted earlier, Russell and countless other would have multiple Olympic Gold medals).

10 Scoring Titles: (Only 4 reb titles for Russ. but thats because he competed with Wilt, the best rebounder of all time. Not that stats are important to him. Read on.)

3 Steal Titles: (Steals and blocks were not officially counted in Russell's time. Russ would be #2 in blocks if it were officially counted, because Wilt again would be number one even if he has to roam the perimeter to do it. Its like a division of labor between the two men, Russ get all the rings, Wilt get all the numbers.)

1988 Defensive Player of the Year: (Russ is the 1969 DPoY, the first time the award was given; had it been awarded earlier, Russ would have won enough to fill a trophy case.)

1991 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year: (Russ is the 1968 SI Sportsman of the Year)

9X All-Defensive 1st Team Selections: (1x. The All-Defensive team EXIST only during Russ' last year. Had it existed earlier, he would have been there all through out his career.).

11X All-NBA Selections: (Only 4 times, since sportswriters were the ones voting the ALL-NBA selections in those days and they are more impressed with Wilt's statistical accomplishment but the MVP was voted by players and coaches who have more intimate knowledge of the game w/c explains why Russ has more MVP's than Wilt).

14X All-Star: (Russ has 12 in 13 years)

2 Slam Dunk Titles: (Exhibition awards are worthless. During his college days, Russell is ranked World #7 in high jump and its not even his main sport. Athleticism?).

1985 Rookie of the Year (Russell got beat out by his own teammate, so how was even the best player on his team?)
-Now here is a little trivia for you. Russ was TAKEN OUT of the running in every major award during his Rookie year. The techncality was he played only half the season because of his Olympic commitments. However, the ROY winner Tommy Heinsohn and the rest of the League, not just the Celtics knew that Russell is the true ROY. It was speculated that the NBA does not want to upset white fans by giving the ROY to a black man for 2 consecutive years - Maurice Stokes won it the year before -which is why they invented the "shallow technicality" to prevent Russ from winning.)

3X All-Star MVP: (Russ has one. Exhibition awards are worthless)

30.1 ppg career average (the record): (A shallow record. Wilt allowed his numbers to dip to putrid lows at the behest of his coaches who want him play a Russell-like role for his team, allowing Jordan to overtake it by a fraction. Russ is second to Wilt in career rebounding average with 22.5).

33.4 ppg career play-off average (the record): (Russ' 24.9 is the best career playoff rebounding average.).

7 of his 10 scoring titles were in a row (the record): (Do you really expect someone who average 13 field goal attempts in a game to compete with Wilt and Jordan in the scoring dept?)

The Chicago Bulls all-time ASSIST leader (well so much for him being a ball-hog): (Russ was once ranked #5 in assists. And he's a center. Russ is one of the best passing centers in League history but his many outlet passes that anchors the Celtic fastbreak offense as not counted as assists.)

41.0 ppg average in the 1993 NBA Finals (the Finals record): (29.5 rpg, in the 1959 Finals. THE FINALS RECORD).

6 Three pointers made in the 1st half of game 1 in the 1992 NBA: (Grabbed 40 rebs in the Playoffs. Second to Wilt Chamberlain's record of 41. Three pointers dont exist in Russ time.)

35 Points made in the first half of game 1 in the NBA Finals (the Finals record):(Russ holds the NBA regular season record for rebounds in one half with 32 and quarter with 19.)

Was named ESPN's Best ATHLETE of the 20th Century (EVER)
-When asked by critics as to what was ESPN's criteria in making that Best Athlete of the Century, they couldnt provide it. I seriously question why would a someone like Jordan would beat Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Jim Thorpe (the decathlon athlete), Babe Didrikson, Bill Russell (the greatest winner in any f*cking sport and the one who broke the coaching color barrier) on the greatest list except in endorsement money.


4 ESPY Awards: ESPN and ESPY awards dont exist during Russell's time. Russell has not been on speaking terms with ESPN for quite some time now due to the fact that an ESPN sportscaster made an erroneous comment on Russell's teammate Bob Cousy. Who cares about ESPY's when your unanimously called as the "GREATEST WINNER" on any sport. Thats a fact and not just a matter of opinion about Bill Russell. And if your the greatest winner in basketball doesnt that make the greatest basketball player?

866 Games scoring in double digits ( the Record): (Russ has the most consecutive games with 20 or more rebounds. I dont even think Russ has a single digit night in rebounds during his entire career.)

1984 Naismith College Player of the Year: (The award does not exist during Russell's time. Russ is the 1955 NCAA Most Outstanding Player. James Worthy won a MOP when he lead UNC to the 1982 NCAA championship but Jordan never won a MOP because he couldnt even lead his team to the Final Four. Under Jordan's leadership, UNC tanked in the Final 8 and Sweet16 in '83 and '84 despite being ranked #1 and #2)

2,514 career steals (2nd most): (Had blocks and steals been officially recorded during Russell's time, he would have been near or at the top of the record list. Shot blocks were lobbied to be an official stat because of Russell.)

32,292 career points (3rd most): (21,620 career rebounds, the 2nd most).

5,987 career play-off points (the record): (Russell has 4,104 career playoff rebounds. The record.)

He is the all-time leader in All-Star game points (262 career all-star points) (the record): (Exhibition records are worthless. How about winning the 1956 Olympic basketball gold medal with a margin of victory of 53.5? Its an Olympic record. A winning margin higher than the 1992 Dream team or the 1960 Olympic "superstar team" of Jerry Lucas, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson etc.)

He has 8 seasons averaging 30+ ppg (the record): (Russ has 10 seasons averaging 20 rebs or more.)

He has 12 play-off seasons averaging 30+ ppg (the record): (Russ ALWAYS avg 20 rebs or more in the Playoffs during his entire 13 years in the NBA.)

He's the ONLY player at age 40 to score 40+ points (more then once): (Russ is the only player coach to win back to back rings.)

63 Points in the 1986 Play-Offs (the play-off record): (Russ grabbed 40 rebounds TWICE in the NBA Finals. Finals record.)

69 points (career high), 18 rebounds (career high), 4 steals, & 6 assist in a SINGLE game.: ( Russ is 11-0 in 11 deciding games and averaged 18 points and 29.45 rebounds.)

5 sixty or more point Games: (Russ has one of only two 50+ rebounding performance.)

32 Fifthy or more point games: (I could think of at LEAST 10 games in which he grabbed 40 + rebs. Seven in the regular season, 3 in the Playoffs.)

72-10 team record LED by MJ (the record): (Russ led the Celtics to 11 Championships, 12 Finals appearance and 13 Division Finals in 13 years. Unmatched consistency is better than a one time single season record.)

He posted 28 career triple doubles: (NCAA Rule Changes because of Bill Russell #1: free throw lane widened from 6-12 feet).

He posted 2 play-off career triple doubles: (NCAA Rule Changes because of Bill Russell #2: offensive goal tending was disallowed).

1997 NBA Finals Flu Game (38 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assist, 3 steals, & 1 block): (Russell played a Finals Game 7 with a bleeding eyeball. ).

At any rate, if Bill Russell sees all of his stats bandied out like this, he'd be pissed off. Its against his philosophy.

"Winning is the only thing I really cared about because I found out that when I left the cocoon of my childhood and I came into the world and young, that individual awards were mostly political. But winning and losing, there are no politics, only numbers. It's the most democratic thing in the world. You either win or lose. So I decided early in my career that the only really important thing was to try and win every game because when I got through no one could say, 'Well, he was the best at this or that.' The only thing that really mattered was who won. And there is nothing subjective about that." -- From The NBA at 50.

Bill Russell has as many NCAA championship and NBA championship as Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson COMBINED.And youre gonna tell me that Jordan is the GOAT? Ha! Ha!

Don't get me wrong, MJ was an exciting player to watch and like I said I respect his skills, but he was not the greatest, Russell was.

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