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

Bill Russell

Bill Russell

AP

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.