This is a picture of Bill Russell bent over awaiting a jump ball. Beside him are the words: Bill Russell's Finals Record

Bill Russell’s Finals Record: The Greatest of All Time!

Bill Russell’s finals record was 11-1. Russell led the Boston Celtics to 11 titles in his 13-year NBA career. Russell’s Celtics lost only once in the NBA Finals – to Bob Pettit and the St. Louis Hawks. His teams also lost once before the finals – to Wilt Chamberlain’s 76ers. 

What is Bill Russell’s Record in NBA Finals? 

Bill Russell had a record of 11-1 in NBA Finals. He won 11 NBA titles in his 13 year career. 

YearBill Russell’s
Boston Celtics
Playoff Result
GamesOpponent
56-57Won NBA Finals4-3St. Louis Hawks
57-58Lost NBA Finals2-4St. Louis Hawks
58-59Won NBA Finals4-0Minneapolis Lakers
59-60Won NBA Finals4-3St. Louis Hawks
60-61Won NBA Finals4-1St. Louis Hawks
61-62Won NBA Finals4-3LA Lakers
62-63Won NBA Finals4-2LA Lakers
63-64Won NBA Finals4-1SF Warriors
64-65Won NBA Finals4-1LA Lakers
65-66Won NBA Finals4-3LA Lakers
66-67Lost East Div. Finals1-4Philadelphia 76ers
67-68Won NBA Finals4-2LA Lakers
68-69Won NBA Finals4-3LA Lakers

How Many Finals Series Did Bill Russell Lose? 

Bill Russell only lost one NBA Finals series. 

His only loss in the NBA Finals came in his second season when Russell’s Celtics lost to Bob Pettit’s St. Louis Hawks. 

Pettit was considered the best player in the history of the game by some at that point. It  was Pettit’s only NBA title.

The only other time in his career when Bill Russell did not win the NBA title was 1967. Let’s take a moment to consider how incredible that sentence is: Russell won the NBA title every year in his career except two! 

In his only other loss, Russell’s Celtics lost to Wilt Chamberlain’s 76ers in the Eastern Division Finals. That was one of only two titles Chamberlain won.  

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Bill Russell Autographed Photo

Interestingly, both titles Chamberlain won were when he listened to a coach who told him to play more like Russell. In this case, that coach was Alex Hannum – the same coach who led Pettit’s Hawks past the Celtics in 1958. 

Did Bill Russell Win 11 Titles in a Row? 

Bill Russell won 11 titles in his 13 year nba career, but they were not in a row. 

His longest title-winning streak was eight years long. That was between 1959 & 1966.   

Who Did Bill Russell Beat in the Finals? 

Bill Russell beat a ton of great players and teams in the NBA Finals.

  • In 1957 Russell beat Bob Pettit and his St. Louis Hawks. Pettit averaged 30 points and 18 rebounds per game in the Finals.
  • In 1959, Russell beat Elgin Baylor and the Minneapolis Lakers. 
  • In 1960 Russell’s Celtics beat Pettit’s Hawks again. This time Petti averaged 26 points and 15 rebounds. Cliff Hagan  added 24 points and 10 boards for the Hawks. 
  • In 1961 Russell beat Hagan and Pettit’s Hawks again. This time Hagan led the scoring at 30 points per game while Pettit had “only” 28.
  • In 1962 Russell beat the LA Lakers led by Elgin Baylor and Jerry West. Baylor poured in 41 points per game and West had 31 per game during the Finals. Somehow, it was not enough to defeat the great Bill Russell. 
  • In 1963 Russell and the Celtics beat Baylor and West’s Lakers again.
  • In 1964 Russell’s Celtics got past Wilt Chamberlain’s San Francisco Warriors. Wilt averaged 29 points and 28 rebounds per game for the series.
  • In 1965 Russell beat the Lakers again. This time it was just Jerry West starring for the Lakers as Elgin Baylor missed the series with an injured knee.
  • In 1966 Russell beat Baylor and West’s Lakers again. The Lakers also featured rookie Gail Goodrich, but they still were not quite up to the task of defeating Russell.
  • In 1968, Russell beat West, Baylor and the Lakers once again. 
  • In Russell’s final season in 1969, his Celtics defeated the LA Lakers one last time. The Lakers still featured West, who scored 38 points per game, and Baylor. They also had added Wilt Chamberlain, but it was not enough to defeat Russell. 

How Many NBA Finals MVPs Does Bill Russell Have? 

The NBA Finals MVP is now named after Bill Russell, but he never won it! 

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Autographed Bill Russell Photo – 11 Rings

That is because the first Finals MVP was given in 1969, Russell’s last year as a player. 

That year Jerry West won the Finals MVP despite his LA Lakers losing the title to Russell’s Celtics.

West is the only player from a losing team to win NBA Finals MVP. 

West averaged 38 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds per game in the 1969 Finals. The Celtics were led offensively by John “Hondo” Havlicek  who scored 28 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 4 assists per game.

Defensively, of course, the Celtics were led by Russell who scored only 9 points but grabbed 21 rebounds per game and had 5 assists as well. 

The series went seven games and the voters chose Jerry West as the MVP. Bill Russell was probably happy, as he was throughout his career, to take the title over the award. 

How Does Bill Russell’s Finals Record Compare to Other NBA Great Players?

Bill Russell has the most NBA Finals victories and arguably the best record. Many players are undefeated in the NBA Finals, including Russell’s teammates K.C. Jones and Tom Sanders. Most of those players, including Robert Horry, were lucky enough to be on a team with an all-time great player.

Of the players who might make a list of all-time greats, only Michael Jordan at 6-0 can possibly claim to have a better record than Russell. I think he’d probably trade his record for Russell’s if he could!

You can see the NBA Finals record for most of the all-time great NBA players below. Click the links to read my posts on their records.

PlayerNBA Finals Record
John Havlicek8-0
Michael Jordan6-0
Bill Russell11-1
Tim Duncan5-1
Kobe Bryant5-2
Steph Curry4-2
Shaquille O’Neal4-2
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar6-4
Magic Johnson5-4
Larry Bird3-2
Hakeem Olajuwon2-1
LeBron James4-6
Wilt Chamberlain2-4
Jerry West1-8
Elgin Baylor0-7

Summary: Bill Russell’s Finals Record

Bill Russell’s finals record was 11-1. Russell is one of the greatest winners in the history of sports. His teams won 11 NBA  titles in his 13 year career. They lost once in the playoffs before the Finals and once in the Finals in 1958.

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