The Trade That Shaped A Dynasty: How The Celtics Landed Bill Russell


April 30, 1956, 68 years ago today: A turning point in NBA history:

In the spring of 1956, the Boston Celtics were at a crossroads. The franchise had tasted success, but they hungered for more. Enter Red Auerbach, the legendary Celtics coach and executive, who would orchestrate a trade that would alter the course of basketball history forever.

On that fateful day, Auerbach struck a deal with the St. Louis Hawks. He sent Ed Macauley, a skilled forward-center who had been a key contributor for the Celtics, and Cliff Hagan, a forward known for his scoring prowess and defensive tenacity, to St. Louis in exchange for the No. 2 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. But Auerbach had his sights set on Russell, the towering center who had dominated college basketball.

The Rochester Royals held the coveted No. 1 pick. Auerbach knew they were eyeing Russell. To ensure they wouldn’t snatch him away, Celtics owner Walter Brown made an offer they couldn’t refuse: one week of the Ice Capades show. Yes, you read that right. The Royals agreed, and with the No. 1 pick, they selected Si Green instead of Russell.

Russell donned the green and white of the Celtics, and the rest is history. He became the cornerstone of a dynasty. His shot-blocking altered games, his rebounding was relentless, and his leadership was unwavering. Russell led the Celtics to 11 NBA championships in 13 seasons—a feat unmatched by any player.

The Celtics’ insane success can be traced back to that trade. Russell’s defensive prowess transformed the team. He anchored a stifling defense that frustrated opponents. His unselfish play and team-first mentality set the tone for the entire organization.

Bill Russell’s impact extended beyond the court. He broke barriers as a Black athlete, paving the way for future generations. His legacy transcends statistics; it’s etched in championship banners and the hearts of Celtics fans.

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