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Bill Russell’s First Game December 22, 1956

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Bill Russell Celtics Rookie

Bill Russell Celtics’ Rookie Click to see on eBay

Sam’s Celtics Forum

Bill Russell’s first game as a Celtic took place on December 22, 1956. It was a matinee with the St. Louis Hawks at Boston Garden that was televised nationally as the NBA Game of the Week. Attendance at Celtics games had averaged less than 7,000 so far that year. More than 11,000 fans who could have watched at home bought tickets to see the rookie sensation in person.

Bill was a phenomenon if ever there was one, a 6’ 10” center with the speed and agility of a guard. He had won back to back NCAA championships and an Olympic gold medal. He had performed the most noble act at the Olympics, giving up his chance to compete for a medal in the high jump, so that a friend could have a spot on the track and field team. Red Auerbach was so impressed that, before the draft, he traded smooth scoring, fan favorite Ed Macauley, an All-Star, and a highly touted prospect, Cliff Hagen, to the St. Louis Hawks to obtain Bill’s rights.

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