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Bill Russell says, for about 30 years, he didn’t realize his Celtics won eight straight championships

Jun 5, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

Bill Russell Bill Russell

Bill Russell famously won 11 championships – eight of them coming in an eight-year span of Boston dominance.

Not only are the Celtics’ eight consecutive titles an NBA record, they’re a modern record across the four major North American sports.

  • NBA championships: 8 – Boston Celtics (1959-66)
  • World Series: 5 – New York Yankees (1949-53)
  • Stanley Cups: 5 – Montreal Canadiens (1956-60)
  • Super Bowls: 2 – New England Patriots (2004-05), Denver Broncos (1998-99), Dallas Cowboys (1993-94), San Francisco 49ers (1989-90), Pittsburgh Steelers (1979-80), Pittsburgh Steelers (1975-76), Miami Dolphins (1973-74), Green Bay Packers (1967-68)

You’d think Russell would know what he accomplished.

But maybe not.

Russell, via NBA.com:

“It might seem strange but I did not know our Celtic teams won eight championships in a row until about 20 years ago when I read about it in a game program. Our focus was always on that particular season, always one year at a time. The year we played had nothing to do with the previous year or the next year. That’s just the way it was.”

Sometimes, former players exaggerate their accomplishments. I don’t enjoy the practice of, implicitly or explicitly, shaming current players for living up to a standard nobody has ever met.

Maybe Russell was more focused than anyone today – you know the Heat know they’re trying to three-peat. But more likely, this story is embellished.

Russell is an all-time great player who should be held in the highest regard in league history. I don’t want to accuse him of lying or intentionally misleading or anything of the sort. So, I’ll end the post here.

  1. yesser12 - Jun 5, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    Bill Russell the best person in NBA history? I think he is top 3 for sure.

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 5, 2014 at 8:28 PM

      It’s funny what time does for your reputation. Bill Russell is extremely moody and is known to be quite angry. I lived in he same city as him for several years, and he was not well liked due to his extreme rudeness. In many ways, he personified the image many people have of Kobe now.

      • billtetley53 - Jun 5, 2014 at 9:40 PM

        Come on Vanessa, are you still defending your man Kobe? They are nothing alike! 1st of all, Russ was a great team mate and loved and respected by all of his fellow players. Secondly, open a book and read it. His anger comes from the times he grew up in. He dealt with a lot of racism. Even in Boston while he was a star there. Hes a product of the times he grew up in.

        So no, hes nothing at all like Kobe.

        He also doesnt force himself on women either

      • asimonetti88 - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:19 PM

        Yes, I’m quite aware of his Southern roots in Jim Crow. That doesn’t give him license to be a dingus. It also doesn’t explain why he was rude to everyone, including African-Americans.

      • Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:07 PM

        You didn’t go through the racist BS that he went through, either. Have a seat.

      • asimonetti88 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:15 PM

        There are plenty of African-Americans that grew up in the same conditions as him that are perfectly pleasant human beings.

  2. rdrfan - Jun 5, 2014 at 7:52 PM

    He was a BA is his day.

  3. mcmystery76 - Jun 5, 2014 at 7:56 PM

    It says right in his quote “about 20 years”. Sweet journalism bro

    • mcmystery76 - Jun 5, 2014 at 7:57 PM

      Read it wrong, I apologize

  4. marbulz - Jun 5, 2014 at 8:13 PM

    Eight titles in a row
    11 titles total
    5 x MVPs awards
    12 x NBA ALL STAR
    4 x Rebounding Champion
    And a two-time NCAA champion
    Enough said!

  5. 700levelvet - Jun 5, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    Refer to him as Mr. Russell…

  6. ProBasketballPundit - Jun 5, 2014 at 8:27 PM

    “I don’t want to accuse him of lying or intentionally misleading or anything of the sort. So, I’ll end the post here.”

    Well (not) said. But I’ll say it. BS. He knew. Even if sports journalism wasn’t what it is today somebody surely told him how many in a row it was. He just didn’t pay attention to it.

  7. cowboys1988 - Jun 5, 2014 at 8:54 PM

    I dont understand why we have to count bill russel’s championships. Does anybody really think his celtics team could do that now?

    • twinfan24 - Jun 5, 2014 at 9:04 PM

      Of course not! They’re all really old now.

    • billtetley53 - Jun 5, 2014 at 9:43 PM

      Youre an idiot. Case closed. You have no sense of the history of the game. Go be a dumb a s s somewhere else.

      • cowboys1988 - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:47 PM

        Nah u probably just some old man who thinks the nba was so much better back in your day

      • deadeyedesign23 - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:13 AM

        Objectively we can say he couldn’t do that in today’s NBA. Back then there were only 4 teams in each division and no playoffs. To compare that to 15 teams + 4 rounds of playoffs + free agency is insane.

        In his era he was great, but they were practically playing a different sport. His 11 rings are like Cy Youngs 500 wins.

    • martyks55 - Jun 8, 2014 at 1:17 AM

      You never saw him play, did you? You’re talking out of your A%s. If he played today, he’d have done everything he had to do to get it done again. You don’t believe that Wilt was enough competition? Laughable.

  8. marbulz - Jun 5, 2014 at 8:59 PM

    You’re missing the big picture nobody is doing what he did back then now that’s what we’re talking about
    Not LeBron not Timmy not Colby not magic not bird not Michael not Kareem not Dr. J
    And if you got other things to see you honestly don’t know your history stick to the other sports and leave us alone don’t come callin if you’re not a ballin

  9. 00maltliquor - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:34 AM

    HE’S LYING through his coffee-stained teeth!!

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