Bill Russell: The Greatest Player of All Time

RealSportsTalk.net Discussion ForumContributor IAugust 28, 2008

THUG | RealSportsTalk.net

Who do you think is the greatest player to ever play in the NBA? I think that Bill Russell is the greatest player to ever play in the NBA, I think this because of 3 main things. His championship legacy, his rebounding/clutch legacy and his defensive legacy.

Bill Russell won 11 championship rings. With that being said I am counting the 2 he won as a player-coach. These 11 NBA championships were won in 13 NBA seasons. Which means that around 85% of the time that Bill Russell was in the NBA, he won an NBA championship. People may argue that the reason that Bill Russell won this many championships is because of Coach Auerbach, or Bob Cousy or any other one of the future Hall Of Famers that played with Bill Russell. I beg to differ. The Boston Celtics never made a trip to the NBA Finals before Bill Russell arrived in Boston. Even though they had Coach Auerbach, Bill Sharman, Bob Cousy and other future Hall of Famers, they did not make the Finals. Not even once. In the 1962 season, Bill Russell sat out 4 straight games and the Celtics effectively lost 4 straight games, again with players like Cousy, Sharman, and Coach Auerbach. In 1969, Bill sat out 5 straight games thanks to an injury and the Celtics went 0-5! This all happening with Sam Jones, John Havlicek and other Hall of Famers playing in the rotation. These 2 losing streaks I mentioned are the 2 worst losing streaks of the "Russell-Celtics". What does this show? This shows that Bill Russell was the main reason as to why the Celtics won 11 championship rings and were so successful. It would be wrong for me to say that Bill Russell was the only reason that the Celtics were successful, but what I am going to say is that he was the biggest reason for that such success. When Bill Russell retired after the 1969 NBA Season, the Celtics went from a 48 win team to a 34 win team! That 48 win team is also the lowest win total while Russell was with the Celtics and only occurred because Russell spent most of that year in rehab. Don't think that when Russell retired, most of the Celtics stars retired with him..they still had HoF's such as Havlicek, Sanders, Jo Jo White and Howell. Yet they still went through a massive 14 game drop when Russell retired. With the Chicago Bulls, when Jordan "retired" in 1994 the Bulls went down from a 57 win team to a 55 win one. Oooh big drop! Bill Russell won 11 NBA championships while on the Boston Celtics, and he was the biggest reason for them.

Bill Russell was one of the greatest rebounders in the history of the NBA, and he was also very clutch when it came down to winning games. In his first full season in the NBA, Bill was the first player to ever average over 20 rebounds per game in the NBA. He didn't just do this once though, he did this 10 out of the 13 years that he played in the NBA. Which means that almost 80% of his career he averaged over 20 rebounds per game. When Bill Russell grabbed 51 rebounds in a single game, that is the 2nd best single game rebounding performance ever trailing only to Chamberlains record of 55 rebounds in a single game. However, Bill still holds the record for most rebounds in one half when he grabbed 32 of them vs. Philadelphia, on November 16, 1957. Bill Russell has 21,620 total rebounds if you count the total games he played in his regular seasons. He also has an average of 22.5 rebounds per game in regular seasons. Both of these are second to Wilt Chamberlain. However he is the all-time playoff leader in rebounds grabbed at 4,104 and rebounds per game at 24.9. This shows that Bill was indeed clutch in his career. Also, Bill was 11-12 basically 91% in his 13 years in the NBA when it came to winning championships in the NBA. I can go on and on but I think you guys get the message about Bill Russell being clutch and being a great rebounder.

Bill Russell arguably is the greatest player to ever play the game both overall and on defense. While he may not have been exactly a great offensive player,(15 points per game career average, and 56% FT shooting with 44% FG shooting) he more than made up for his offensive struggles with his defense. Wikipedia describes Bill as an consummate defensive center, noted for his unmatched defensive intensity, his stellar basketball IQ and his sheer will to win. Russell excelled at playing man-to-man defense, blocking shots, and grabbing defensive and offensive rebounds. Some say that Bill paved the way for more centers like him that have similar playing styles in struggling offensively but making up for it in defensive excellence.Blocks were not recorded in his era but if they were, you can bet your bottom dollar that he would be right up there as a great shotblocker in NBA history. Bill Russell was a defensive powerhouse in every aspect.

This opinion was written by RealSportsTalk member Thug.  Join RST to discuss basketball or sports in general with other fans here:  http://realsportstalk.net/forums/index.php

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