August 13, 2022

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Bill Russell, Celtics center who transformed professional basketball, dies at 88

Bill Russell, Celtics center who transformed professional basketball, dies at 88

At McLemonds High School in Oakland, Russell became a regular on the basketball team as a senior, already focusing on defense and rebounding. Hal DiGulio, a former University of San Francisco basketball player who researched his alma mater, recognized Russell’s potential and recommended him to coach Phil Walpert.

Russell received a scholarship and became an all-American, teaming up with the Guard KC Jones, a future Celtic teammate, has led San Francisco to the NCAA Championships in his last two seasons. After losing to UCLA in Russell’s junior year, the team won 55 straight games. He averaged over 20 points and 20 rebounds in his three seasons in college.

“Nobody played basketball the way I did, or so,” Russell told Sport magazine in 1963, recalling his college career. They had never seen anyone hold back the shooting. Now I’d be conceited: I like to think I’ve created a whole new style of play.”

In the mid-1950s, the Celtics had a very talented squad that included Bob Cousy, the league’s greatest little man, and their marksman. Bill Sharman in guard and Ed McCauleyGood shooter, up front. But due to their lack of a dominant position, they did not win any championships.

The Rochester Royals had the first pick in the 1956 NBA Draft, but they already had a great big guy, Maurice Stokesand were unwilling to fight what their owner, not Harrison, thought would be a war on Russell with the Harlem Globetrotters, who were reportedly willing to offer him a lucrative deal. So members of the royal family coined Sihugo Green, a guard from Duquesne.

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The St. Louis Hawks had a second choice, but they also didn’t think they could afford Russell. Auerbach convinced them to trade this selection with the Celtics in exchange for McCauley, a St. Louis native, and Cliff Hagan, a promising upstart. This enabled Boston to take Russell.