Bill Russell squares off against Larry Bird in the semifinals of the Boston’s Biggest Sports Legend tournament.
1. Bill Russell Bill Russell has a championship ring for every finger and one for a toe. The 11-time NBA champion, five-time MVP and 12-time All-Star is Boston’s winningest player ever. A Celtic for his entire 13-year NBA career, Russell tallied 14,522 points, 21,620 rebounds and 4,100 assists for the Green, leading to the retirement of his No. 6. Arguably the greatest defensive player in the game’s history, Russell is the all-time playoff leader in total rebounds (4,104) and rebounds per game (24.9), grabbing 40 rebounds in three separate postseason contests. Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975, Russell was selected to the All-NBA First and Second Teams a combined 11 times. In 2009, the NBA named the Finals MVP trophy in Russell’s honor, a fitting gesture to recognize the most decorated athlete in Boston sports history.
2. Larry Bird It’s difficult to put into words what Larry Bird did for basketball in the city of Boston. Bird was so impressive at Indiana State that Red Auerbach drafted him in 1978, knowing full well that the Celtics would have to wait another season to see Bird in green. The wait was well worth it, with Bird beating out collegiate rival Magic Johnson for Rookie of the Year honors following the 1979-80 season. That was just the beginning for Bird, who helped lead the Celtics to championships in 1981, 1984 and 1986. Bird spent most of his career collecting accolades, including three MVPs, 12 All-Star selections, a gold medal and three memorable 3-point contest victories. Bird’s 29.9 points per game is the highest mark in franchise history, while Larry Legend’s clutch shots throughout the ’80s will never be forgotten.