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Bill Russell and the transfer that changed the fate of the NBA

ANDra 1956 and the Celtics, the winningest franchise in NBA history, had yet to win a title. They had a good team with Bob Cousyone of the first c

Bill Russell and the transfer that changed the fate of the NBA


ANDra 1956 and the Celtics, the winningest franchise in NBA history, had yet to win a title. They had a good team with Bob Cousyone of the first creative point guards, Ed Macauley, Bill Sharman… But they were missing something. Auerbach Networkthe architect of that basketball summit that were those of Boston became obsessed with a young man named Bill Russell. A 2.08 meter pole from which some had raved about him: “Change the game.” And others did not recommend it: “He is incapable of putting it within a meter of the hoop.”

Back then, interiors had to score. The defense didn’t matter. Russell was an abnormality in that basketball, but Auerbach was sure he was what his team was missing.. So he got to work to try to get the pvot. It was no easy task. The boy had won the NCAA twice in a row with the University of San Francisco, which went 55 games undefeated. All the teams knew him and he was going to be picked soon in the draft. The chances of him making it to the seventh pick, which was the Celtics’ pick, were remote.

Bill Russell, in his first training session with the Celtics. /AP

The Rochester Royals they would pick first, but they already had a great rebounder on the roster like Maurice Stokes, that the previous year he had led the league statistics with 16.3 sacks per game. They had no need to select Russell. Also, I was afraid of the rookie’s warning, who said that would ask for $25,000 as salary in his first professional contract. A fortune at the time.

Ice show to convince the Royals

But how you never know Walter Brown, the legendary owner of the Celtics, He wanted to leave everything tied. He called his Royals counterpart to ask about his franchise’s intentions regarding the draft. To finish convincing them to let Russell pass, he promised him that let them spend two weeks a year in Rochester with the Ice Capades, a group that starred in a famous ice-skating show. and whose property was also his.

With the No. 1 draft pick already ruled out in the race for Russell, It was time to convince number 2, held by the Saint Louis Hawks. And a stroke of luck helped. Good for the Celtics and lousy for one of their players, Ed Macauley. The post, with origins in Saint Louis, requested the transfer to the Missouri team before the illness of his son, who suffers from a rare cerebral palsy. The then six-time All Star was one of the Celtics’ best players: 17.5 points and 5.9 rebounds in the 55-56 season despite already dealing with his serious family problem. Despite this, Prioritizing the personal, they agreed to seek the transfer.

Two key pieces for the unknown Russell

Auerbach called the Hawks proposing trade Macauley for Russell. From Saint Louis, in that racist Missouri where who knows how Bill would have landed, they also asked Cliff Hagan, a player chosen in the 1953 draft and who had not yet debuted with the Celtics, since he had been in the army for three years. The great Boston coach accepted despite the risk involved losing two key pieces at the expense of that rookie post who had been warned that he was almost nil in attack.

Bill Russell defends Wilt Chamberlain.  /AP

Bill Russell defends Wilt Chamberlain. /AP

Come the day of the draft, the Royals selected Sihago Green and the Celtics got their big goal after doing the most decisive operation in the history of the NBA. In that same rookie draft Boston at a Tom Heinson as a territorial election KC Jones. three members of the Hall of Fame of a stroke

Russell’s thing was the biggest transfer engineering exercise in memory in the league and He transformed Boston from a good team to a champion and from there to a legendary one. The Celtics won their first ring in that season 56-57, they lost the following year and then chained eight in a row in addition to those of 1968 and 1969. Nothing less than 11 titles in 13 years. And all, under the domain that post that does not put a (he finished with an average of 15.1 points in his career) and only rebounded (22.5 average, only behind Wilt Chamberlin) and defend. Like little. Auerbach was sure he was going to change the game and he was right.