- Fans are debating the GOAT of major pro sports, with many suggesting Tom Brady or Michael Jordan.
- Bill Russell and his record 11 NBA championships have other ideas.
- Recency bias may compel fans to hold Brady or Jordan in higher esteem, but Russell is unmatched.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Following Tom Brady’s record seventh Super Bowl victory, fans are debating whether the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback or NBA legend Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time â€” or GOAT.
But when it comes to winning titles, Brady and Jordan are just kids compared to the one and only Bill Russell â€” and the legendary Boston Celtics centre let them hear it.
Russell on Friday â€” incidentally, his 87th birthday â€” used Twitter to remind fans who were fawning over Brady’s and Jordan’s championship-ring collections that he was the unrivalled king of championships. He has more than two hands’ worth.
— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) February 12, 2021
The five-time league MVP and 12-time All-Star won a whopping 11 NBA Finals over his storied 13-year playing career in Boston. Though his 15.1 points per game over that span may seem underwhelming to modern NBA fans, his 22.5 rebounds per game remain absolutely staggering about 50 years after his final season competing in the league.
Before his playing days came to a close, Russell channeled his on-court prowess to coaching. He acted as player-coach for his Celtics from 1966 to 1969. Then, once he stepped off the hardwood, he enjoyed stints as head coach of the Seattle SuperSonics and, later, the Sacramento Kings.
Russell’s astronomical career feats â€” and his off-court civil-rights efforts â€” have made him an icon of the sports world, and it shows through the honours he’s accrued in his lifetime. In addition to his 11 NBA championships, 12 All-Star nods, and five MVP awards, Russell has earned an Olympic gold medal, two NCAA championships, two high-school state championships, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the inaugural NBA Lifetime Achievement Award.
As if that isn’t enough, the NBA renamed its finals MVP award in Russell’s honour in 2009.
Recency bias may compel fans to hold Brady’s seven Lombardi trophies and five MVP awards or Jordan’s six rings and four MVPs in higher esteem, but the vast sum of Russell’s accomplishments remain unmatched. When it comes to major professional sports in the US, Russell reigns supreme.