Bill Russell, who played center for the Boston Celtics from 1956 to 1969, is widely considered one of the best players in National Basketball Association history. He demonstrated his skill and determination in a game on Feb. 5, 1960, when he ignored a charley horse and secured a personal best — and second best in NBA history — of 51 rebounds in a 124-100 victory over Syracuse.
Russell was a critical component in the dynasty of the Celtics, which won 11 NBA championships during his 13-year career. He holds the record for the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league, along with Henri Richard of the National Hockey League.
In addition, Russell, who was born Feb. 12, 1934, led the University of San Francisco to achieve two consecutive NCAA championships. He also won a gold medal in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, when he served as captain of the United States basketball team.
In 2009, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that the NBA Finals MVP Award would be named after Russell. The following year, Russell was named as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
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(Photo: Herb Scharfman/Sports Imagery/Landov)