Bill Russell

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameWilliam Fenton "Bill"•Russell
Used nameBill•Russell
Born12 February 1934 in Monroe, Louisiana (USA)
Died31 July 2022 in Mercer Island, Washington (USA)
Measurements207 cm / 100 kg
AffiliationsSan Francisco Dons, San Francisco (USA)
NOC United States
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1


Perhaps he was the greatest basketball player ever, perhaps only its greatest champion, but it matters little, for Bill Russell forever changed the shape of professional basketball. He turned it into the consummate team game, where defensive ability, rebounding and hustle were as important as great offensive skills. Bill Russell played for the University of San Francisco, the 1956 Olympic team, and the Boston Celtics. But one rarely finds Russell’s name in the individual record book as most of the records were set by his arch-rival, Wilt Chamberlain. However, when it counted, Russell’s character refused to allow his team to lose. In 17 attempts to win championships with these clubs, he succeeded 14 times, and one loss occurred when he was injured in the NBA championship finals. Besides his gold medal, he played on two NCAA championship teams, and 11 NBA champs with the Celtics – eight of those in succession.

Russell was five times the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, and was virtually always first or second-team All-NBA, often alternating the honor with Chamberlain. He was named The Sporting News’ Athlete of the Decade in 1970, and also was named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated. After his retirement he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1974 and, in perhaps his greatest honor, was named the NBA’s greatest player ever in a poll of basketball writers. Russell also coached in the NBA, but with mixed success. He started as a player-coach with the Celtics in his last two playing years.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1956 Summer Olympics Basketball (Basketball) USA Bill Russell
Basketball, Men (Olympic) United States 1 Gold

Special Notes