Bill Russell (born 1934) is an American retired professional basketball player, widely considered one of the best in National Basketball Association (NBA) history. Playing center for the Boston Celtics, he was the centerpiece of their dynasty and his shot-blocking and man-to-man defense were major reasons for the team's success. A five-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a twelve-time All-Star, he won 11 NBA championships during his 13-year career, and jointly holds the record for the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league. He led the NBA in rebounds four times, and remains second all-time in both total rebounds and rebounds per game. Russell was the first African American player to achieve superstar status in the NBA and the first African American NBA coach. For his accomplishments in the Civil Rights Movement on and off the court, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. Russell is a member of three basketball Halls of Fame (Naismith Memorial, National Collegiate, and FIBA) and the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award is named in his honor. He also won a 1956 Olympics gold medal as captain of the U.S. national basketball team. Russell is widely considered one of the best players in NBA history. Listed as between 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) and 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m), Russell's shot-blocking and man-to-man defense were major reasons for the Celtics' success. He also inspired his teammates to elevate their own defensive play. Russell was equally notable for his rebounding abilities. He led the NBA in rebounds four times, had a dozen consecutive seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds, and remains second all-time in both total rebounds and rebounds per game. He is one of just two NBA players (the other being prominent rival Wilt Chamberlain) to have grabbed more than 50 rebounds in a game. Though never the focal point of the Celtics' offense, Russell also scored 14,522 career points and provided effective passing.
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