William Felton "Bill" Russell was born on February 12, 1934 in Louisiana. He would grow up to be arguably the greatest center ever. He certainly was the winningest NBA player ever.

Because of Russell's color, he wasn't recruited by a single college until a recruiter for the University of San Francisco saw him play. Good thing he did because here is what Russell did in his college career: He averaged 20.7 points per game and 20.3 rebounds per game. Oh, and he led USF to back-to-back national championships in 1955-1956).

In the 1956 NBA Draft Russell was selected second overall by the St. Louis Hawks. But Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach thought that a defensive power like Russell would change the game for the Celtics. So much so he was willing to part ways with six-time All-Star center Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan. The trade proved to be one of the best moves in NBA history.

Russell spent his entire career with Boston from 1956 to 1969. When all was said and done he was a five-time league MVP, 12-time All-Star, and a key to a record 11 championships. Along with Henri Richard of the National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens, Russell holds the record for the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league, according to Wikipedia. He also won a gold medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics as captain of the U.S. national basketball team.

For his Hall of Fame career Russell averaged 15.1 points per game, but it was his size and skill on the defensive end that made him so special. He averaged 22.5 rebounds per game. Just watch him in action and you will see how dominant he was.

Happy birthday, Bill Russell.

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