The new two-episode Netflix documentary Bill Russell: Legend highlights the story of the man who has left a larger than life legacy. The show, which was released yesterday, features interviews with the late basketball icon and takes a look at his career as a high profile athlete + his work towards social justice.
Here are six fast facts about the legendary life and career of No. 6, both on and off the court.
- The St. Louis Hawks drafted Russell in 1956 from the University of San Francisco, then immediately traded him to Boston. In 13 seasons, the 6’10” center helped bring home 11 championships and earned the Most Valuable Player award five times. He also won two NCAA titles and an Olympic gold for Team USA.
- In 1966, after the Celtics won their eighth championship in a row, Russell was named a player-coach + became the first Black head coach for an American professional sports team.
- He is one of the most decorated players in NBA history and held himself to a different standard than fellow celebrity athletes by deciding not to sign autographs even for his own teammates, preferring quick in-person interactions.
- Russell was one of the first Black players in the NBA, and in the 1960s he boycotted a game for a civil rights protest.
- He marched with Martin Luther King Jr., stood with Muhammad Ali, fought for desegregation of schools in Boston, and gave a “Freedom Graduation” address for students at a Roxbury school in 1966.
- In 2011, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.