Red Auerbach, basketball's greatest coach said of Russell, He is the smartest player ever. He is supremely intelligent, the fiercest player and proudest man I have ever seen. Michael Jordan, the only other player to win 5 MVP awards, has acclaimed that Bill Russell is the game's greatest living legend...no one has influenced the game of basketball more than Bill.
No one in any sport anywhere in the world has equaled the achievements of professional basketball's Bill Russell and his Boston Celtics.
As the leader of his team, his record speaks of consistency, winning an unprecedented 18 championships in 21 years of playing basketball. Besides leading the Boston Celtics, the greatest team of the 20th century to an extraordinary record of 11 world championships in 13 years and eight NBA championships in a row, Bill's high school team won three championships and he led the University of San Francisco to a divisional championship and two national championships, winning 55 straight games. In 1956 Bill proudly captained the U.S. Olympic basketball team to a gold medal.
Bill Russell and his teammates created the modern game of basketball. As a player and as a coach Bill revolutionized the game of basketball by playing defense like his life depended on it. His breakthrough approach to defense was predicated on the principle of making defense an offensive part of the game. Offensively he forever changed the game by transforming the entire tempo of the sport and introducing the concept of transition. No player in history could inflict his will on a game more effectively than Bill Russell.
Bill was chosen as the league's most valuable player five times...12 times elected to the NBA All-Star team...and, in 1967 he became the first African-American professional coach in any sport and when he joined the Seattle Supersonics, the first African-American general manager. In 1980 Bill was voted the greatest player of all time.
Bill Russell made leadership an art...winning a mission...and teamwork the key to success.
Bill knows the qualities and values that it takes for a team to win. His ability to raise the level of his teammates game, his competitiveness, his consistency, his understanding of collaboration and teamwork are the qualities of a true champion.
Less known about Bill is that he was the first professional athlete to host Saturday Night Live. Bill is also credited with playing another major role in bringing the NBA into the modern era when he agreed to become the commentator analyst in 1980 as the NBA signed its first major network contract with CBS and went to prime time.
Bill was also the author of two award-winning best sellers, Go Up For Glory and Second Wind. His newest book, Russell Rules...11 Lessons in Leadership from the Greatest Winner of the Twentieth Century will be released on May 7.
Russell has also been an aggressive advocate for civil rights, equality and diversity. A sought after mentor, Russell is active on the Board of Directors of the National Mentoring Partnership.
Bill truly defines the word champion because of his success as a talent and as a human being. Few individuals are admired for their integrity, compassion, intellect and wisdom on and off their court, as much as Bill Russell.
Bill Russell was the perfect speaker for our event. We were struck by his warmth & humility. Some other words used to describe him were "totally and completely wonderful, entertaining, bright, kind, patient and just awesome in every way". So, I'd say he has 350 new fans! Our audience was "just gushing" about the evening and it was a complete and total success! Thank you!
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