Not many sports franchises can say they’ve won 24 percent of all the league’s championships. Not many franchises can also say they’ve won eight straight, but that’s what the Boston Celtics accomplished in an eight-year period.
Bill Russell was the second overall pick of the 1956 draft and became a champion in his rookie season. His effect on the game defensively was already dominant as he earned praise from rival head coach John Kundla.
“We don’t fear the Celtics without Bill Russell,” Kundla said. “Take him out and we can beat them… He’s the guy who whipped us psychologically.”
Russell instilled fear into his opponents; especially on the defensive side of the floor.
The Celtics knew they were bound to success under Bill Russell and an already established coach in Red Auerbach. Auerbach pretty much saved the franchise after Celtics owner Walter Brown hired him. In fact, it almost didn’t come to be as Brown could have hired anyone else, and as he thought about it (with finances dwindling) he asked the press who he should hire. Someone told him the right thing and he went with Red Auerbach. Auerbach took Boston to the playoffs for a couple of years but always ended up with losses. The Celtics, led by Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman, were Fast Break Legends. Running and layups for years and when Russell was drafted, the final piece to the puzzle was found.
Oh, and should we forget that the Celtics also picked up future hall-of-famers in Tommy Heinsohn and K.C. Jones in the same draft class as Russell.
The Celtics were all about a four letter word, emphasizing TEAM play and defense over offense. Since there wasn’t a three-point line in the late 1950s, the Celtics forced its opponents to take longer range two-pointers and the strategy proved to be effective. They swept the Minneapolis Lakers in Minnesota’s last appearance in the Finals and beat the St. Louis Hawks back-to-back seasons. The eight-year run also saw the rise and origin of the rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and Celtics.
Here are some clips of the Celtics’ dominance.
1960 NBA Finals: Game 7
1961 NBA Finals: Game 5
1962 NBA Finals: Game 7
1963 NBA Finals: Game 6
1964 NBA Finals
1965 NBA Finals: Game 1
Bill Russell 1966 highlights