I start today a new special series called "Best Ever" in which i will point out the cases for some all time greats to be argued as the top player in the league's history.

Although Michael Jordan is universally claimed to be the greatest basketball player to step on a hardwood (with good reasons), there're other players who deserve to be called like that too.

The legend with whom, i will begin is Bill Russell.

The famous Celtics center of the 60's is well respected by his opponents and among the older fans, who continued the dominance of the big men, en route revolutionized the NBA, added new dimensions to the game, accomplished much and did enough to earn his spot among the legends.

Without further ado, here are the ten reasons why Russell was the greatest player in the NBA History!

1.Defensive Dominance

Bill Russell was arguably the greatest defender in the NBA History. He revolutionized defensive concepts.His dominance on this side of the court were one of the keys for his team's amazing success and proved you can be a superstar while dominating on the not so popular side.

He was one of the physically most gifted players of all time. He had terrific athleticism, could jump really high, had underrated strength, was extremely mobile and versatile center with a longer reach than Kareem.He knew to use his advantages well, because he was arguably the most smartest player to play the game.

Russell's impact on defense was better than anyone else's. He turned the Celtics from a high scoring team that averaged more than 130 points in average, to a defensive minded team in which he was the cornerstone.

He created many fast brakes with his abilities on the other end, he fired the perfect outlet passes and in that he launched scoring chances for his team mates. He contributed for the easy points without even making an attempt at the rim.

Bill created the fundamentals of the blocked shots. He was arguably the best shot blocker of any time. He mastered three things in order to stop so many shots:1)perfect timing, 2)not fouling the shooter and 3)blocked the shot so he could grab or his team to get the ball.

There wasn't a more intimating presence on defense than him, ever. He intimated guys, forced them to shot badly, wasn't fooled and he knew everyone's favorite spot because he did an analyze on every player three months before he joined the NBA.

His team mates forced their opponents to switch on him, because he was that good in stopping them down. Also, he excelled in one on one defense. He was arguably the finest one on one stopper. He held the great Chamberlain below his averages, and so he did with other guys like Pettit etc.


Winning is one of the most important aspects of these kind of debates, and this is where Bill Russell excels more than anyone has ever excelled. He's arguably the biggest winner in the NBA History.

Russell won eleven championship in the course of his thirteen year career. He was the cornerstone of arguably the greatest dynasty in sports history, the Boston Celtics, the franchise with the top amount of championship (11).

On his way to the titles, he led his team to wins over his opponents teams led by basketball legends like Wilt, West, Baylor, Pettit and so on. He delivered with amazing clutch performances, as he elevated himself in the post season, finals and in the crucial game sevens.

The Celtics never won a title, neither did came close to win it all until Bill arrived on scene. He worked hard to get to those titles and there's no doubt that he was the biggest winner of all time.

3.Basketball IQ

There wasn't arguably a more smarter person to play professional basketball than Bill Russell. His intelligence was off the charts. He took full advantage of it and turned it into success for multiple years.

He was known for using his advantages to beat his opponents. He understood the fundamentals of the game well too. He knew his opponents game because three months before he joined the NBA, he made analyzes on all the players.

Russell usually picked a good spot before he blocked a shot. He made quality plays all the times. He always made adjustments when it was needed.

Bill would even made some statements during the tough playoff series in which he gives impression to his opponents that they have done a good thing. So, yes, his high basketball IQ played a large role of why he was such a great player.

4.Mental Edge

Bill Russell had a bigger mental edge than anyone who has stepped on a basketball court, period. He was known for playing mind games with his opponents, often beating and psyching them like no else ever did.

He wrote a book during the '66-67 season, in which he wrote how he used to beat his opponents with his psychological edge as he had three laws to that. They were called "Russell Laws" because he invented them.

Bill made adjustments in order how to stop the other team from winning against him, especially in playoff times. When you add his edge in terms of intelligence, he maximized his advantages and topped just about anyone.

5.Clutch Performance

Although he's underrated in terms of coming in the clutch, Bill Russell was arguably the greatest clutch performer in the NBA History as his performances in all of the Game Seven he played through his career.

In those ten games, he has a perfect winning record of 10-0. Here are the stats from those those matches.

-19 points, 31 rebounds

-18 points, 32 rebounds

-22 points, 35 rebounds

-19 points, 22 rebounds

-30 points, 40 rebounds

-20 points, 24 rebounds

-15 points, 29 rebounds

-25 points, 32 rebounds

-12 points, 26 rebounds

-6 points, 21 rebounds

Overall Averages:18.6 points, 29.2 rebounds

Not bad isn't it? He additionally elevated his play from the regular season in the playoffs and finals too. Here are some more stats about Russell.

Regular Season Averages:15.1 points, 22.5 boards, 4.4 assists, 44% FG, 56.1% FT

----------Playoff Averages:16.2 points, 24.9 boards, 4.7 assists, 43.0% FG, 60.3% FT

----------Finals Averages:16.1 points, 30.2 boards, 5.8 assists, N/A FG%, 53.1% FT

So, in general, Russell's numbers elevate when it's mattered most.

6.Team Superstar

"There are two types of superstars. One makes himself look good at the expense of the other guys on the floor. But there's another type who makes the players around him look better than they are, and that's the type Russell was."

This is a famous quote by Don Nelson in the interview on Boston Herald. Indeed, he's right. Bill was the game's first and arguably the first team superstar in the NBA History.

He was one of the rare legends who had a team first mindset. He never focused on statistics nor or records. His only focus was winning and that only. Russell excelled at making the others around him better.

It's no wonder that many of his team mates are part in the Hall Of Fame. They didn't carry him. It was the other way around. That's why even guys like KC Jones who didn't even average more than 10 points are now part of the Hall.

Like his former team mate Sanders say, Bill had such a mentality that he thought he should win every game he plays in, regardless with which team he played in.

He did all of the little things, dominated in the course of his illustrated career, made everyone around him better, excelled in the clutch and is now a well respected legend.

Other than that, he accomplished much and can be argued as the best ever in many categories. It's a good reason why Russell was the greatest team superstar to step on a basketball hardwood.

7.Top One Club Man Ever

Nobody meant more to a franchise in the NBA History than Bill Russell. The Celtics weren't a franchise who won a championship in the league before the legendary center arrived in town.

They were also a high scoring team with an offensive mentality as they were scoring more than 130+ points in average led by the likes of Sharman and Cousy. However, not even they could bring success for so long neither get to the Finals.

Bill Russell changed all of that. His domination on the defensive end, glass, his ability to create so many fast brakes and good offensive production in terms of mostly outlet passes made the key difference.

He made others around him better. That's why there were a lot of Hall Of Fame players who built their legacy because of him. I know you will criticize Bill for his average abilities on offense, but this wasn't true.

As John Havlicek stated in his book. When he was retired, Hondo stated that Russell's passing lacked in the team because there wasn't a great one on one player in those average offensively teams.

However, when he was playing, the Celtics weren't scoring that many points and were never that terrific on offense. Instead, they were average. But, they won eleven titles during thirteen years in which Bill established as the cornerstone of the famous dynasty.

That's why he was the greatest one club man of all time.


Bill Russell has a nice filled career resume with lots of accomplishments. The most known of them is the fact that he won eleven titles, which is an all time record and a feat that might not be matched for long time.

Here is the list of his achievements
  • 11× NBA Champion (1957, 1959–1966, 1968–1969)
  • 5× NBA Most Valuable Player (1958, 1961–1963,1965)
  • 12× NBA All-Star (1958–1969)
  • 3× All-NBA First Team (1959, 1963, 1965)
  • 8× All-NBA Second Team (1958, 1960–1962, 1964,1966–1968)
  • NBA All-Defensive First Team (1969)
  • NBA All-Star Game MVP (1963)
  • NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
  • NBA 35th Anniversary Team
  • NBA 25th Anniversary Team
  • #6 Retired by Boston Celtics
It's an impressive resume. He also holds numerous records such as most consecutive games with at least 20+ rebounds in the Finals History, highest rebounding game in the Finals with 40 boards (he did that twice) and so on.
He does have a nice career filled resume when you take in consideration what else he could have had there been awards like Defensive Player Of The Year, All-Defensive Teams, blocks, steals, Finals MVP etc in his career. Nonetheless, his achievements are more good.


Bill Russell was arguably the greatest leader in the NBA History. He was a team superstar who had only one thing on his mind and that was to win. He remains as the biggest winner of all time, possibly in sports history as well.

Russell was a coach of a floor himself too, who led by example, made everyone around him better and he never cared about individual achievements. His focus was to win and nobody did it better than him.

Also, his leadership was more than crucial. That showed up pretty much when Red Auerbach retired, and set Bill to be the new Celtics coach. The result? Oh, it was pretty hard at the end.

Boston was struggling through a lot of injuries, the players aged and they lost to the upcoming 67' Sixers who were destined to become a dynasty. Next season, their chances increased when they were leading three games to one but then again, they just fell.

Powered by Russ, the Celtics pushed this series to seven series and surpassed the Sixers and crashed the Lakers again en route to another title. Bill Russell was the leader behind these runs, who as a player coach led the Celtics to two sweet championships.

That is a proof enough of just how good leader he was out there.

10.Ability To Play In Any Era

Bill Russell is one those guys who was capable to play in any era. He was first of all, one of the physically most gifted players in the NBA History. He had nice athleticism, could jump high (former world champion), had higher reach than Kareem, underrated strength.

He was extremely mobile, versatile and quick for a center. Additionally, there wasn't arguably a more smarter man to play professional basketball than him. He also had an overlooked mental edge, as he psyched and intimated his opponents in many ways.

Russell's productiveness is more than obvious. He was a dominant defensive player, who excelled on the glass, was a productive offensive player, a guy who made everything around him better and a coaches' player who never cared about stats.

He'd be just as equally good in any era. He had a lot of tools to work with and he knew to use them smartly. That's why he'd excel in any decade. Oh, and about his lack of weight. He'd just go to a gym and add some muscle.

A great player could play at any time and he's one of them.


Rebounding is one of the most crucial parts of a basketball game and this is another category where Bill Russell excels in. He's arguably the greatest rebounder in the NBA History.

He was also the most clutch presence on the glass, who provided ton of boards when you needed him most. Here's the proof about all of that below.

Regular season averages-22.5 rebounds

-----Post season averages-24.9 rebounds

-----Game Seven averages-29.2 rebounds

-------------Finals averages-30.2 rebounds

See what i mean. His performance on the boards keeps getting better and better from regular season to the highest stages and most important moments. He also holds numerous records to prove that.

He ranks second in his career in total boards and average with five rebounding crowns. Not bad. He's the playoffs all time leader in both total and average with comfortable lead over others. He still has the edge in the Finals History over others too, where he was the best.

Russell for example had a streak of at least 12+ rebounding games with at least 20 boards in the Finals. He holds the biggest totals in a four game series too. He was a remarkable!

12.Quotes On Bill Russell

"There are two types of superstars. One makes himself look good at the expense of the other guys on the floor. But there's another type who makes the players around him look better than they are, and that's the type Russell was."

---Don Nelson on Bill Russell in an interview with Boston Herald

" To Bill, every game-every championship game-was a challenge, a test to his manhood. He took the game so seriously that he threw up in the locker room before almost every game.

"But I tend to look at basketball as a game, not a life-or-death struggle. I don't need scoring titles or NBA Championships to prove that girls, friends, the beach, freedom-to get emotionally wrapped up in basketball.

"I think Bill knew I felt that way, and I think he both envied and resented my attitude. On the one hand, I think he wished he could learn to take things easier, too; on the other hand, I think he may have felt that with my natural ability and willingness to work hard, my teams could have won an NBA Championship every year if I was as totally committed to victory as he was.

"I wish I had won all those Championships, but I really think I grew as a man in defeat that Russell did in victory."

------Wilt Chamberlain

I think Russell was the foxiest, smartest, meanest player psychologically that ever played the game. He had a book on everybody. He knew where this guy like to take a shot. He took defense of basketball and turned it into an art form

-------Tom Heinsohn, former team mate

Russell had an attitude and most people would say just playing and winning attitude. That doesn't really describe at all. He thought he was the best defensive player who played.

He also thought he was the best all-around player to play the game. And he thought that every team he plays on should win every single game.

----Tom "Satch" Sanders

--Darko Mihajlovski


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