William Felton "Bill" Russell (born February 12, 1934) is a
retired American professional basketball player who played center
for the Boston Celtics of the NBA. A five-time winner of the NBA
Most Valuable Player Award and a twelve-time All-Star, the 6 ft 9
in Russell was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty that won
eleven NBA Championships during Russell's thirteen-year career.
Along with Henri Richard of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens, Russell
holds the record for the most championships won by an athlete in a
North American sports league. Before his professional career,
Russell led the University of San Francisco to two consecutive
National Collegiate Athletic Association championships (1955,
1956). He also won a gold medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics as
captain of the U.S. national basketball team.
Russell is widely considered one of the best defensive players
in NBA history. Playing in the wake of pioneers like Earl Lloyd,
Chuck Cooper, and Ray Felix, Russell was the first African American
player to achieve superstar status in the NBA. He also served a
three-year (1966-69) stint as player-coach for the Celtics, thus
becoming the first African American coach in any major American
professional sports league.
Russell is now a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall
of Fame and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. He was
named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996. In
2007, he was enshrined in the FIBA Hall of Fame.