The "Just win, baby" motto is a perfect fit for one of basketball's legendary players - Bill Russell.
Russell's 13-year career with the Boston Celtics resulted in a remarkable 11 NBA championships, including eight consecutive titles from 1959 to 1966.
Averaging 20.7 points and 20.3 rebounds in his three-year varsity career at the University of San Francisco, he led the Dons to a 71-8 overall record in his three varsity seasons, including 55 consecutive wins and back-to-back NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956.
UCLA's legendary coach John Wooden described Russell as "the greatest defensive man I've ever seen."
Delaying his NBA debut until December 1956 so that he could play in the Olympics, Russell helped guide the 1956 U.S. Olympic Basketball Team to an 8-0 record and the gold medal in the Melbourne Olympic Games, which were held in November.
"Growing up, the Olympics were this thing in the clouds and you really couldn't aspire to it. But as I got closer and closer I said, 'I want to do that,’” Russell said during an interview with For The Record. "I could have qualified in two different sports. I was in the top five in the world in high jumping, in track and field. And the guys on the American team, two out of the three, I had beaten regularly.
"But after I made it (Olympics) in basketball, we had been friendly competitors, so I dismissed going out for the track team because the other two guys, we had been friends over two seasons. And I was, as we say, on the boat (to Melbourne). I wasn't going to take two seats. Maybe I wouldn't have won anyway, but I could have made the track team.
"It was just fun to be a part of that and the gold medal is very, very very precious to me. In terms of trophies, it's probably my most prized possession," he said.
Russell was a five-time league MVP (1958, 1961-63, 1965), 12-time NBA All Star and an 11-time All-NBA first or second team selection.
Russell's style of play was best described by Celtics teammate Don Nelson, who told the Boston Herald, "There are two types of superstars. One makes himself look good at the expense of the other guys on the floor. But there's another type who makes the players around him look better than they are, and that's the type Russell was."
Halls of Fame:
- Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1974.
- Inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame inaugural class in 2007.
- Inducted into the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. Was one of five individuals (John Wooden, Oscar Robertson, Dean Smith and Dr. James Naismith) selected to the inaugural class.
- Inducted into the University of San Francisco Athletic Hall of Fame in 1975.
- Voted the Greatest Player in the History of the NBA by the Professional Basketball Writers Association of America in 1980.
- On Feb. 14, 2009, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award would be renamed the "Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award" in his honor.
- Presented by President Barack Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
- Named to NBA 25th Anniversary Team, NBA 35th Anniversary Team and NBA 50th Anniversary Team.
- Named one of the top 15 players in NCAA tournament history in the 75 Years of March Madness Celebration.
- Ranked #18 on ESPN's 50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century in 1999.
- Named by Sports Illustrated its 1968 Sportsman of the Year.
- Selected The Sporting News Athlete of the Decade (1970).
- The Boston Celtics officially retired his No. 6 jersey on March 12, 1972.
- The University of San Francisco retired his No. 6 jersey.
- Had a bronze statue placed in front of Boston's City Hall in 2013.
USA Basketball Notes:
- Gold Medal: 1956 Olympics.
- Wore No. 6 with the 1956 U.S. Olympic Team.
- Member of the gold medalist 1956 U.S. Olympic Team that finished with a perfect 8-0 record. Played in all eight of the team's games, averaged a team-leading 14.1 ppg. and shot 47.9% from the field and 77.8% from the foul line.
- Because the 1956 Melbourne Olympics were held Nov. 22-Dec. 1, 1956, he postponed joining the Boston Celtics until after completion of the Olympics. His first NBA game came on Dec. 22, 1956, and he played in 48 games for the Celtics in 1956-57, averaging 14.7 points per game and a league-high 19.6 rebounds per game.
- Played in 963 regular season games, compiled 40,726 minutes (42.3 mpg.), 14,522 points (15.1 ppg.), 21,620 rebounds (22.5 rpg.) and 4,100 assists (4.3 apg.). Shot 44.0% (5,687-12,930 FGs) from the field and 56.1% (3,148-5,614 FTs) from the foul line.
- Won 11 NBA championships (1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968 and 1969), the most by any NBA player.
- Ranks second all-time in the NBA in career rebounds (21,620), second in rebounds averaged (22.5), second in minutes per game (43.2), 30th in minutes played (40,726), 31st in triple-doubles (17) and 58th in free throws attempted (5,614).
- Played 165 career NBA playoff games, averaged 45.4 minutes, 16.2 points, 24.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. Shot 43.0% from the field and 60.3% from the foul line.
- Led the NBA in total rebounds in four seasons (1958, 1959, 1964 and 1965) and in rebounds averaged in five seasons (1957, 1958, 1959, 1964 and 1965).