William F. "Bill" Russell
Before Bill Russell brought his marvelous defensive and shot-blocking skills to basketball, the game focused primarily on offense. But Russell initiated a defensive mentality that remains a focal part of championship basketball. Considered the greatest defensive center in basketball history, the agile Russell was a dominant collegian. Playing under Hall of Fame Coach Phil Woolpert, and with fellow Hall of Famer K.C. Jones, Russell helped University of San Francisco become one of college basketball's most exciting and prosperous teams. Russell turned the Boston Celtics into a powerful machine that overwhelmed opponents both defensively and offensively. During Russell's career, Boston won eleven NBA championships, including eight consecutive titles from 1959 to 1966. Russell's head-to-head battles with Wilt Chamberlain are legendary. Russell's accolades include: five-time league MVP (1958, 1961-63, 1965), twelve-time All-Star Game participant (MVP in 1963), Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year (1968), and The Sporting News Athlete of the Decade (1970).