Bill Russell was the Boston Celtics’ center from 1956-1959 and an NBA superstar. He won 11 NBA Championships and was a twelve-time NBA All-Star. He was also named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player five times and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975. John Havlicek and Russell, who are still friends to this day, worked as a team on the court. “He is the best all-around ball player I ever saw,” said Russell.
Russell played basketball for the University of San Francisco, and Coach Phil Woolpert made him the new starting center. In 1955, Russell was named the NCAA’s Most Outstanding Player. In 1956, he was drafted by Red Auerbach to play for the Celtics, but before his rookie year, he was the captain of the U.S. national basketball team for the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia.
Russell went on to become one of the NBA’s most celebrated players, and he was one of the league’s first African American stars. He was later a player-coach for the Celtics for three seasons, making him the first African American coach in the NBA.