William Felton Russell is an American retired professional basketball player who played center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association from 1956 to 1969. A five-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a twelve-time All-Star, he was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty that won eleven NBA championships during his thirteen-year career. Russell and Henri Richard of the National Hockey League are tied for the record of the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league. Russell led the University of San Francisco to two consecutive NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956, he captained the gold-medal winning U. S. national basketball team at the 1956 Summer Olympics. Russell is regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, he was 6 ft 10 with a 7 ft 4 in wingspan. His shot-blocking and man-to-man defense were major reasons for the Celtics' domination of the NBA during his career. Russell was notable for his rebounding abilities, he led the NBA in rebounds four times, had a dozen consecutive seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds, remains second all-time in both total rebounds and rebounds per game.
He is one of just two NBA players to have grabbed more than 50 rebounds in a game. Russell was never the focal point of the Celtics' offense, but he did score 14,522 career points and provided effective passing. Russell played in the wake of black pioneers Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, Sweetwater Clifton, he was the first black player to achieve superstar status in the NBA, he served a three-season stint as player-coach for the Celtics, becoming the first black coach in North American professional sports and the first to win a championship. In 2011, Barack Obama awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his accomplishments on the court and in the Civil Rights Movement. Russell is one of seven players in history to win an NCAA Championship, an NBA Championship, an Olympic gold medal, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. He was selected into the NBA 25th Anniversary Team in 1971 and the NBA 35th Anniversary Team in 1980, named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, one of only four players to receive all three honors.
In 2007, he was enshrined in the FIBA Hall of Fame. In Russell's honor the NBA renamed the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy in 2009: it is now the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. Bill Russell was born in 1934 to Katie Russell in West Monroe, Louisiana. Like all Southern towns and cities of that time, West Monroe was a segregated place, the Russells struggled with racism in their daily lives. Russell's father was once refused service at a gas station until the staff had taken care of all the white customers; when his father attempted to leave and find a different station, the attendant stuck a shotgun in his face and threatened to kill him if he didn't stay and wait his turn. In another incident, Russell's mother was walking outside in a fancy dress when a white policeman accosted her, he told her to go home and remove the dress, which he described as "white woman's clothing". During World War II, large numbers of blacks were moving to the West to look for work there; when Russell was eight years old, his father moved the family out of Louisiana and settled in Oakland, California.
While there, the family fell into poverty, Russell spent his childhood living in a series of public housing projects. Charles Russell was described as a "stern, hard man" who worked as a janitor in a paper factory, a typical "Negro Job"—low paid and not intellectually challenging, as sports journalist John Taylor commented; when World War II broke out, the elder Russell became a truck driver. Russell was closer to his mother Katie than to his father, he received a major emotional blow when she died when he was 12 years old, his father gave up his trucking job and became a steelworker to be closer to his semi-orphaned children. Russell has stated that his father became his childhood hero followed up by Minneapolis Lakers superstar George Mikan, whom he met when he was in high school. Mikan, in turn, would say of Russell the college basketball player, "Let's face it, he's the best ever. He's so good, he scares you." In his early years, Russell struggled to develop his skills as a basketball player.
Although Russell was a good runner and jumper and had large hands, he did not understand the game and was cut from the team in junior high school. As a freshman at McClymonds High School in Oakland, Russell was cut again. However, coach George Powles saw Russell's raw athletic potential and encouraged him to work on his fundamentals. Since Russell's previous experiences with white authority figures were negative, he was delighted to receive warm words from his white coach, he worked hard and used the benefits of a growth spurt to become a decent basketball player, but it was not until his junior and senior years that he began to excel, winning back to back high school state championships. Russell soon became, he recalled, "To play good defense... it was told back that you had to stay flatfooted at all times to react quickly. When I started to jump to make defensive plays and to block shots, I was corrected, but I stuck with it, it paid off." Russell, in an autobiographical account, notes while on a California High School All-Stars tour, he became obsessed with studying and memorizing other players' moves as preparation for defending against them
The center known as the five, or the big man, is one of the five positions in a regular basketball game. The center is the tallest player on the team, has a great deal of strength and body mass as well. In the NBA, the center is 6 feet 10 inches or taller and weighs 240 pounds or more, they traditionally have played close to the basket in the low post. A center with the ability to shoot outside from three-point range is known as stretch five; the center is considered a necessary component for a successful team in professional leagues such as the NBA. Great centers have been the foundation for most of the dynasties in both the NBA and NCAA; the 6'10" George Mikan pioneered the Center position, shattering the held perception that tall players could not develop the agility and coordination to play basketball well, ushering in the role of the dominant big man. He led DePaul University to the NIT title after turning professional, won seven National Basketball League, Basketball Association of America and NBA Championships in his ten-year career, nine of them with the Minneapolis Lakers.
Using his height to dominate opposing players, Mikan invented the shot block. In the 1960s, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain further transformed basketball by combining height with a greater level of athleticism than previous centers. Following the retirement of George Mikan, the rivalry of the two big men came to dominate the NBA. Between the two of them and Russell won nine of the eleven MVP awards in the eleven-year period between 1958 and 1969. Many of the records set by these two players have endured today. Most notably and Russell hold the top eighteen season averages for rebounds. Bill Russell led the University of San Francisco to two consecutive NCAA Championships, he joined the Boston Celtics and helped make them one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history, winning eleven championships over his thirteen-year career as well as five MVP awards. Russell revolutionized defensive strategy with his shot-blocking and physical man-to-man defense. While he was never the focal point of the Celtics offense, much of the team's scoring came when Russell grabbed defensive rebounds and initiated fast breaks with precision outlet passes to point guard Bob Cousy.
As the NBA's first African-American superstar, Russell struggled throughout his career with the racism he encountered from fans in Boston after the 1966–67 season, when he became the first African-American in any major sport to be named player-coach. His principal rival, Wilt Chamberlain, listed at 7'1", 275 pounds, lacked Russell's supporting cast. Chamberlain played college ball for the Kansas Jayhawks, leading them to the 1957 title game against the North Carolina Tar Heels. Although the Jayhawks lost by one point in triple overtime, Chamberlain was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. A member of the Harlem Globetrotters before joining the Philadelphia Warriors of the NBA in 1959, Chamberlain won two Championships, in 1967 with the Philadelphia 76ers and 1972 with the Los Angeles Lakers, although his teams were defeated by the Celtics in the Eastern Conference and NBA Finals, he won seven scoring titles, eleven rebounding titles, four regular season Most Valuable Player awards, including the distinction, in 1960, of being the first rookie to receive the award.
Stronger than any player of his era, he was capable of scoring and rebounding at will. Although he was the target of constant double- and triple-teaming, as well as fouling tactics designed to take advantage of his poor free-throw shooting, he set a number of records that have never been broken. Most notably, Chamberlain is the only player in NBA history to average more than 50 points in a season and score 100 points in a single game, he holds the NBA's all-time records for rebounding average, rebounds in a single game, career rebounds. A lesser-known center of the era was Nate Thurmond, who played the forward position opposite Wilt Chamberlain for the San Francisco Warriors but moved to center after Chamberlain was traded to the new Philadelphia franchise. Although he never won a Championship, Thurmond was known as the best screen setter in the league, his averages of 21.3 and 22.0 rebounds per game in 1966–67 and 1967–68, are exceeded only by Chamberlain and Russell. In contrast to the Celtics dynasty of the 1960s, the 1970s were a decade of parity in the NBA, with eight different champions and no back-to-back winners.
At the college level, the UCLA Bruins, under Coach John Wooden, built the greatest dynasty in NCAA basketball history, winning seven consecutive titles between 1967 and 1973. UCLA had won two consecutive titles in 1964 and 1965 with teams that pressed and emphasized guard play. After not winning in 1966, Wooden's teams changed their style, he led UCLA to three championships-in 1967, 68' and 69'-while winning the first Naismith College Player of the Year Award. During his college career, the NCAA enacted a ban on dunking because of Alcindor's dominant use of the shot, his entrance into the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1969 was timely, as Bill Russell had just retired and Wilt Chamberlain was 33 years old and plagued by injuries. After leading the Bucks to the 1971 NBA championship, te
San Francisco Dons men's basketball
The San Francisco Dons men's basketball team represents the University of San Francisco in NCAA Division I men's college basketball. The Dons compete in the West Coast Conference, in which they have the winningest program, have won sixteen regular season championships and one conference tournament championship; the current head coach is Todd Golden. They play home games at the War Memorial Gymnasium, which serves as the venue for women's basketball, athletic department offices, athletic training rooms; the basketball team claims three national titles: the 1949 NIT under Pete Newell, the 1955 and 1956 NCAA Division I championships. The latter two were under Phil Woolpert, led by player and National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Russell. USF retained its status as a basketball powerhouse into the 1970s and early 1980s, holding the distinction of being a "major" program in a "mid-major" conference, it held the number one spot in the polls on numerous occasions. In 1977, led by All-American center Bill Cartwright, the Dons went 29–0 and were regarded as the #1 team in the nation in both major polls before dropping their last two games.
The San Francisco Dons men's basketball program has been rated the 29th "Greatest College Basketball Program of All-Time" by Street & Smith's magazine, 49th by NBC Sports "Greatest Programs of All-Time", 75th by the ESPN/Sagarin All-Time College Basketball Rankings, higher in all three rankings than any other West Coast Conference school and many schools from BCS Conferences. Basketball got its start at USF known as St. Ignatius College, in 1910; the original coach was Orno Taylor. The scores had grown since 1895 but the writing was as florid as ever; the College Annual reported that "the entire team did nobly in the season just finished and the student body as a unit thanks them for their loyalty and devotion." The results weren't bad either. The St. Ignatius team won six of its seven games. Included in the victories was a sweep of Santa Clara, still a major rival, by scores of 38–31 and 22–13. After serving in the United States Navy from 1942 to 1946, Pete Newell was appointed men's basketball head coach at the University of San Francisco in 1946.
During his four-year tenure at USF, Newell compiled a 70–37 record and coached the Dons to the 1949 National Invitation Tournament championship, beating his alma mater, Loyola. This was the team of All-American Don Lofgran, Joe McNamee, captain John Benington, Ross Giudice, Frank Kuzara and a baby-faced guard named Rene Herrerias, thought to be the team's ball boy. New York's Madison Square Garden crowds were notoriously tough to please. Lofgran and company had them cheering in the aisles. In 1950, he accepted an appointment as head coach at Michigan State University, where he stayed until 1954, he led the University of California to the 1959 NCAA men's basketball championship, a year coached the gold medal-winning U. S. team at the 1960 Summer Olympics. After his coaching career ended he ran a world-famous instructional basketball camp and served as a consultant and scout for several National Basketball Association teams, he is considered to be one of the most influential figures in the history of basketball.
Newell left for Michigan State in 1950, USF hired Phil Woolpert as his successor. He assumed both the posts of men's basketball coach and athletic director. During his tenure at USF, Woolpert posted a 153–78 record, including a 60-game win streak that at the time was the longest in college basketball, his teams, anchored by Bill Russell, K. C. Jones, Eugene Brown and Mike Farmer, were known for their defense and held opponents below 60 points on 47 different occasions. USF won the National Championship in 1955 and 1956, finished third in 1957. At the time the youngest college basketball coach to win a national championship, Woolpert won Coach of the Year honors in 1955 and 1956. Bill Russell was ignored by major college scouts because he didn't start at McClymonds High School in Oakland, he did not receive a single letter of interest until Hal DeJulio from USF watched him in a high school game. DeJulio was not impressed by Russell's meager scoring and "atrocious fundamentals", but sensed that the young center had an extraordinary instinct for the game in clutch situations.
When DeJulio offered Russell a scholarship, the latter eagerly accepted. Sports journalist John Taylor described it as a watershed in Russell's life, because Russell realized that basketball was his one chance to escape poverty and racism. At USF, Russell became the new starting center. Woolpert emphasized defense and deliberate half-court play, concepts that favored defensive standout Russell. Woolpert was unaffected by issues of skin color. In 1954, he became the first coach of a major college basketball squad to start three African American players: Russell, K. C. Jones and Hal Perry. In his USF years, Russell used his relative lack of bulk to develop a unique style of defense: instead of purely guarding the opposing center, he used his quickness and speed to play help defense against opposing forwards and aggressively challenge their shots. Combining the stature and shot-blocking skills of a center with the foot speed of a guard, Russell became the centerpiece of a USF team that soon became a force in college basketball.
After USF kept Holy Cross star Tom Heins
Power forward (basketball)
The power forward known as the four, is one of the five positions in a regulation basketball game. It has been referred to as the "post" position. Power forwards play a role similar to that of center, they play offensively with their backs towards the basket and position themselves defensively under the basket in a zone defense or against the opposing power forward in man-to-man defense. The power forward position entails a variety of responsibilities, one of, rebounding. Many power forwards are noted for their mid-range jump-shot, several players have become accurate from 12 to 18 feet. Earlier, these skills were more exhibited in the European style of play; some power forwards, known as stretch fours, have since extended their shooting range to three-point field goals. In the NBA, power forwards range from 6' 8" to 7' 0" while in the WNBA, power forwards are between 6' 1" and 6' 4". Despite the averages, a variety of players fit "tweener" roles which finds them in the small forward or center position depending on matchups and coaching decisions.
Some power forwards play the center position and have the skills, but lack the height, associated with that position
Saint Mary's Gaels men's basketball
The Saint Mary's Gaels men's basketball team represents Saint Mary's College in Moraga, competing in the West Coast Conference of the NCAA. The team plays home games in the McKeon Pavilion, capacity 3,500; the current head coach is Randy Bennett, the school's all-time wins leader. The Gaels have appeared in ten NCAA Tournaments—1959, 1989, 1997, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2019. On March 1, 2013, they were placed on probation by the NCAA for four years due to rules violations, their two historic rivals are the San Francisco Dons and the Santa Clara Broncos, two other Catholic schools in the San Francisco Bay Area that are in the WCC. More the Saint Mary's Gaels have developed a rivalry with the Gonzaga University Bulldogs of Spokane, Washington. Many analysts and members of the media have touted the Gaels vs. Zags as one of the best, if not the best, college basketball rivalry on the West Coast. Saint Mary's basketball and volleyball teams play their home games at the McKeon Pavilion, which has a capacity of 3,500.
It was named after a former member of the college's Board of Regents. Constructed in 1978, it underwent renovations in the summer of 2006, with new features including painted bleachers, new chair backseats behind the reserved section, a remodeled VIP section, a banner with "GaelForce" on it behind the student section. Under coach Randy Bennett, the men's basketball team has become recognized nationally as one of the top mid-major programs in the United States, he inherited a 2–27 team when he arrived in 2001, began recruiting an Australian named Adam Caporn. Since Bennett has built a reputation of recruiting Australian players. With Caporn in the line-up, his best friend and fellow Australian Daniel Kickert joining him the following year, Saint Mary's record improved to 9–20 in 2001–02, 15–15 in 2002–03, 19–12 in 2003–04. In 2004–05, the team earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, although they lost in the first round, their 15–1 record in McKeon Pavilion was its best ever. After rebuilding seasons in 2005–06 and 2006–07, the team enjoyed one of their best seasons in school history in 2007–08, behind the play of Australian freshman Patty Mills.
The team was ranked in the USA Today top 25 lists for five and six weeks, respectively. They ended up receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament in 2008 as well, but again lost in the first round. In 2008, the team got off to a strong start, going 14–2 before Mills broke his hand and missed a month. Mills came back in time for the West Coast Conference Tournament, but after a loss to Gonzaga in the WCC tournament finals, the team was not selected for the NCAA tournament and played in the NIT. After the end of the year, Mills was a second-round selection. In March 2010, the Gaels received an automatic bid to the 2010 NCAA Tournament, after winning the championship game of the WCC Tournament. Having beaten Gonzaga in the tournament final, it was the Gaels' second WCC tournament victory since it began in 1987. In 2010, they won their first NCAA Tournament game since 1959. On March 20, 2010, the Gaels, led by Omar Samhan, defeated second seeded Villanova to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, for their first time in the 64 team era.
They lost to 3 seed Baylor 72–49 to end their season 28–6 and with its worst loss of the year. Following the loss of Samhan to graduation, many expected the Gaels next season to be a rebuilding year. Led by point guard Mickey McConnell, Saint Mary's compiled a 25–9 record, 11–3 in the WCC, including the Gaels' first win against Gonzaga in Spokane since 1995, but after absorbing a late-season loss to last-place San Diego and dropping an ESPN BracketBuster game at home against Utah State, Saint Mary's failed to make the NCAA Tournament. They would be upset in the first round of the NIT by Kent State. After McConnell graduated, Australian point guard Matthew Dellavedova became the team's new star alongside San Diego transfer and San Francisco native Rob Jones; the Gaels compiled a 27–6 record and went 14–2 in the WCC in 2011–12, including a win in Moraga over Gonzaga and a sweep of new conference member BYU. Saint Mary's spent most of the season ranked in the AP and Coaches' polls and won the outright WCC regular season title, the first time since 2000 that Gonzaga had not claimed part of the title.
The Gaels defeated Gonzaga in overtime in the WCC tournament, marking the first time in school history Saint Mary's won both the regular season and tournament titles. Saint Mary's lost to Purdue in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Saint Mary's Australian pipeline focused on the Australian Institute of Sport, continues to the present; the 2011–12 team featured four AIS graduates, including 2012 WCC Player of the Year Dellavedova, another Australian, Jorden Page. The 2015–16 team had four AIS graduates, boasting a total of six Australians, the 2016–17 roster had a program record of seven Australians. In the latter season, the Gaels went so far as to hold an official celebration of Australia Day for their home game against San Francisco, which fell on the holiday's date of January 26. Before the game, Australia's national anthem was played alongside the US anthem, the school honored officials from Australia's San Francisco consulate; the Gaels have made at least en NCAA Tournament appearances.
They have an overall 5–9 record in tournament games. The Gaels have appeared in six National Invitation Tournaments, their combined record is 7–6. Official website
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is a men's professional basketball league in North America. It is considered to be the premier men's professional basketball league in the world; the NBA is an active member of USA Basketball, recognized by FIBA as the national governing body for basketball in the United States. The NBA is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. NBA players are the world's best paid athletes by average annual salary per player; the league was founded in New York City on June 1946, as the Basketball Association of America. The league adopted the name National Basketball Association on August 3, 1949, after merging with the competing National Basketball League; the league's several international as well as individual team offices are directed out of its head offices located in the Olympic Tower at 645 Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. NBA Entertainment and NBA TV studios are directed out of offices located in New Jersey; the Basketball Association of America was founded in 1946 by owners of the major ice hockey arenas in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States and Canada.
On November 1, 1946, in Toronto, Canada, the Toronto Huskies hosted the New York Knickerbockers at Maple Leaf Gardens, in a game the NBA now refers to as the first game played in NBA history. The first basket was made by Ossie Schectman of the Knickerbockers. Although there had been earlier attempts at professional basketball leagues, including the American Basketball League and the NBL, the BAA was the first league to attempt to play in large arenas in major cities. During its early years, the quality of play in the BAA was not better than in competing leagues or among leading independent clubs such as the Harlem Globetrotters. For instance, the 1948 ABL finalist Baltimore Bullets moved to the BAA and won that league's 1948 title, the 1948 NBL champion Minneapolis Lakers won the 1949 BAA title. Prior to the 1948–49 season, however, NBL teams from Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and Rochester jumped to the BAA, which established the BAA as the league of choice for collegians looking to turn professional.
On August 3, 1949, the remaining NBL teams–Syracuse, Tri-Cities, Sheboygan and Waterloo–merged into the BAA. In deference to the merger and to avoid possible legal complications, the league name was changed to the present National Basketball Association though the merged league retained the BAA's governing body, including Podoloff. To this day, the NBA claims the BAA's history as its own, it now reckons the arrival of the NBL teams as an expansion, not a merger, does not recognize NBL records and statistics. The new league had seventeen franchises located in a mix of large and small cities, as well as large arenas and smaller gymnasiums and armories. In 1950, the NBA consolidated to eleven franchises, a process that continued until 1953–54, when the league reached its smallest size of eight franchises: the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia Warriors, Minneapolis Lakers, Rochester Royals, Fort Wayne Pistons, Tri-Cities Blackhawks, Syracuse Nationals, all of which remain in the league today.
The process of contraction saw. The Hawks shifted from the Tri-Cities to Milwaukee in 1951, to St. Louis in 1955; the Rochester Royals moved from Rochester, New York, to Cincinnati in 1957 and the Pistons relocated from Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Detroit in 1957. Japanese-American Wataru Misaka broke the NBA color barrier in the 1947–48 season when he played for the New York Knicks, he remained the only non-white player in league history prior to the first African-American, Harold Hunter, signing with the Washington Capitols in 1950. Hunter was cut from the team during training camp, but several African-American players did play in the league that year, including Chuck Cooper with the Celtics, Nathaniel "Sweetwater" Clifton with the Knicks, Earl Lloyd with the Washington Capitols. During this period, the Minneapolis Lakers, led by center George Mikan, won five NBA Championships and established themselves as the league's first dynasty. To encourage shooting and discourage stalling, the league introduced the 24-second shot clock in 1954.
If a team does not attempt to score a field goal within 24 seconds of obtaining the ball, play is stopped and the ball given to its opponent. In 1957, rookie center Bill Russell joined the Boston Celtics, which featured guard Bob Cousy and coach Red Auerbach, went on to lead the club to eleven NBA titles in thirteen seasons. Center Wilt Chamberlain entered the league with the Warriors in 1959 and became a dominant individual star of the 1960s, setting new single game records in scoring and rebounding. Russell's rivalry with Chamberlain became one of the greatest rivalries in the history of American team sports; the 1960s were dominated by the Celtics. Led by Russell, Bob Cousy and coach Red Auerbach, Boston won eight straight championships in the NBA from 1959 to 1966; this championship streak is the longest in NBA history. They did not win the title in 1966–67, but regained it in the 1967–68 season and repeated in 1969; the domination totaled nine of the ten championship banners of the 1960s.
Through this period, the NBA continued to evolve with the shift of the Minneapolis Lakers to Los Angeles, the Philadelphia Warriors to San Francisco, the Syracuse Nationals to Philadelphia to become the Philadelphia 76ers, the St. Louis Hawks moving to Atlanta, as well as the addition of its first expansion franchises; the Chicago Packers (now Wa
1956–57 NCAA University Division men's basketball season
This was the first year where NCAA basketball was split into two levels of play – the University and College divisions. The top 20 from the AP Poll during the pre-season. Frank McGuire brought the ACC its first National Championship as his undefeated North Carolina Tar Heels defeated Wilt Chamberlain and the Kansas Jayhawks in what is considered one of the best games in NCAA history – a 54–53 triple–overtime thriller. Chamberlain was named tournament Most Outstanding Player. Played at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri Third Place – San Francisco 67, Michigan State 60 Bradley won its first NIT title, defeating Memphis State in a one-point contest. Memphis State's Win Wilfong won the MVP in a losing cause as he poured in 89 points in the Tigers' four games, including 31 in the final. Played at Madison Square Garden in New York City Third Place – Temple 67, St. Bonaventure 50 Helms Foundation Player of the Year: Lennie Rosenbluth, North Carolina UPI Player of the Year: Chet Forte, Columbia UPI Coach of the Year: Frank McGuire, North Carolina Robert V. Geasey Trophy: Guy Rodgers, Temple NIT/Haggerty Award: Chet Forte, Columbia