How amazing is it when a team puts up a championship run in a league where only one championship is given every year.
That’s what exactly Bill Russell did! He led the Boston Celtics to 11 championships in 13 attempts. 11 out of 13, very astonishing!
No current superstar can match this milestone. Certainly not Lebron James. Not Stephen Curry. Not Kevin Durant.
Neither did previous Superstars.
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Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan. Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’neal, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, and Air Jordan were all far in matching this record.
What makes Russell a one-of-a-kind player was his attitude putting a premium on winning than on individual numbers.
During his stint with Boston from 1957 to 1969, he led the Celtics to the championship every year except during the 1957-58 and 1966-67 seasons.
He would always defer to his Celtics teammates when it comes to piling statistical accolades and he made his teammates better that they would have a balanced attack every time they met an adversary.
And the Celtics capitalized on it as they became the most dominant team during that era.
In the world of team professional sports, putting up impressive individual performances would normally dominate an athlete’s objective.
Reason is it is ordinary for a professional athlete’s salary to be attributed to his performance output more than his impact on a team championship.
Athletes with impressive overall individual statistics usually get higher salary than the one-dimensional athletes or whose talents are mainly intangibles but are vital in propelling a team to the championship.
This is true in the NBA, even in the 50’s and 60’s, where there is abundant talent but scarce in championships.
Just try comparing the huge long-term contracts given in the past to guys who definitely had the talent to those who seemingly had less but were critical in their team’s championship success.
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I’d like to make myself clear, the talented guys deserved to get paid but I felt so were the role-playing guys.
Take the cases of Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudemire, Rudy Gay, and Zach Randolph, who were once among the highest paid NBA players at one time, to guys like James Posey with the Celtics in 2008, Bruce Bowen with the Spurs, Robert Horry during the Houston, Lakers and Spurs championships, Tyson Chandler with the Mavs, and Steve Kerr of the Bulls and Spurs.
A big disparity is very visible in the salaries of the guys who have better stats than the guys who were on the court mainly because they were instrumental in their teams’ championship quest.
To refresh your mind, Johnson and company never made it to the finals while Horry and company did.
That is why Bill Russell’s 11 of 13 is something really special because it will endure time.
For all its worth, Russell was not a patsy player. He was notable for his rebounding abilities. He led the NBA in rebounds four times, had a dozen consecutive seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds and remains second all-time in both total rebounds and rebounds per game.
He is one of just two NBA players to have grabbed more than 50 rebounds in a game. The other was his prominent rival Chamberlain, whom he frustrated many times in the championship department.
He was never the focal point of the Celtics’ offense although Russell still scored 14,522 career points and dished out 4,100 assists.
By: ARMANDO BOLISLIS, originally published August, 2015
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