How do you define an athlete that’s so multifaceted and complex that he transcends the game itself? Bill Russell is the champion of NBA basketball with 11 titles under his belt in 13 seasons. He was the first player to win an NCAA Championship, NBA Championship and Olympic Gold and Bill completed the basketball triple crown within a span of 13 months (maybe the number 13 isn’t unlucky).
From a social aspect Russell was a pioneer as the first black coach of any major sports league (also the first to win). Bill found himself playing basketball in a time of civil unrest, inequality and (blatant) racism and had to endure bigotry on a daily basis. He used his platform for the betterment of his community and fought along side civil rights leaders like MLK JR, Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, Kareem, Jim Brown.
Nike’s Art Of A Champion pack centers around the moments that contributed to each player’s championship legacy. Moments range from learning experiences (like KD’s Battle Tested KD IVs) to ‘cherry on top’ Finals spectacles (like MJ’s Last Shot 14s). Bill Russell, on the other hand, is in a category of his own because he created the championship blueprint for future generations to follow and build upon. Legend says that Bill would get so focused on the game and winning that he would become visibly ill before games. Have you ever wanted something so bad it made you sick? Didn’t think so… Russell expected to win every game he participated in and never accepted anything less; he once said, “Time runs out on us, but we never lose.” His smothering defense psychologically effected opponents, he wanted to breakdown his opposition to a point where they feared playing offense. “One thing you want to do is make them (your opponent) think they can’t win.” The excellence and determination Bill displayed in each of his Finals appearances resulted in the Finals MVP Trophy being named in his honor.
Bill’s indomitable will was on full display in Game 7 of the 1962 NBA Finals. A pre-Chamberlin Lakers squad lead by Elgin Baylor (LeBron before LeBron) and Jerry West pushed Russell and the Celtics to their limits – a situation he prepared for and thrived in. The game was a classic slugfest and required overtime to decide a victor. Russell responded in mammoth fashion with gaudy stat line of 30 points and 40 rebounds (Shaq, eat your heart out) in Chucks! Nike and Converse are set to release a commemorative pair of All-Stars in honor of Russell’s ’62 performance this Thursday, May 3rd. Checkout some detailed pics of the pair below.
Simple and well executed; the shoes speak for themselves.