If you look up the word ‘champion’ in the dictionary, there should be a picture of Bill Russell. The American retired NBA player was a legend and a trailblazer in the sport, his 11 championship rings during his 13-year career ranking as the most ever by any North American sports figure.
Russell, who turns 83 today, helped the Boston Celtics become a dynasty as one of the greatest big men of all-time. His shot-blocking, rim protection, rebounding and general will to win garnered him five MVP awards. Twice, he grabbed more than 50 rebounds in a game and often won the match-up between fellow legend Wilt Chamberlain.
Russell is one of just seven players ever to win an NCAA Championship, an NBA Championship and an Olympics gold medal. He was also the first African-American NBA head coach.
Other sports stars born on this day
1974: ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed, flamboyant ex-British boxer who was featherweight world champion (43).
1980: Juan Carlos Ferrero, Spanish tennis player who won the French Open in 2003 (37).
1976: Christian Cullen, legendary former New Zealand full-back who scored 46 tries in 58 matches (41).
1988: DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans running back who was NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2014 (29).