When Red Auerbach retired from coaching in 1966, the Boston Celtics understood the monumental task that lie ahead. Finding a replacement for a legend – the legend who had made the Celtics relevant in the first place – would be like trying to find a new frontman for The Beatles. Lucky for the Celtics, Red only need look down his own bench for the answer. Bill Russell accepted the player/coach position after much deliberation, but just like that, the NBA welcomed the league’s first Black head coach. Russell transitioned into his new role seamlessly. The Celtics, already nine-time world champions, added two more titles with Russell at the helm, also making Russell the first Black head coach to win an NBA championship. The second ring, in 1969, again pitted Russ and the Celtics against archrival Wilt and the Lakers. The Celtics needed all seven games to dispose of Los Angeles. Russell then retired from playing. Russell coached only eight seasons in the NBA, but his impact will last forever.
BornFebruary 12, 1934 Monroe, LA
DiedJuly 31, 2022
Professional CareerBoston Celtics Sacramento Kings Seattle Supersonics
IN THE NBA
HEAD COACH TO LEAD
TEAM TO NBA CHAMPIONSHIP
SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR