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When it comes to the NBA’s GOAT, there always seems to be a certain Boston Celtics player left out of the conversation. Michael Jordan and LeBron James are always at the top of the list, but there’s much more to NBA all-time greats than those two. Why is Bill Russell hardly mentioned regarding the NBA’s GOAT?

Michael Jordan and LeBron James always lead the way

Strike up a conversation about the NBA’s GOAT, and the first two names you’ll likely hear are Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Jordan and James are certainly two of the best to play the game and have a combined 10 NBA titles. The two have also racked up a combined nine MVPs.

Michael Jordan was the talk of the NBA in the late ’80s and ’90s. He was the face of the NBA when he helped the Chicago Bulls earn a pair of three-peats. Jordan is a 10-time scoring champion and took home MVP honors five times. In all six of the Bulls’ championships, Jordan was named the NBA Finals MVP. He averaged 30.1 points per game over his 15-year career.

James is still going strong in his 18th year in the NBA. At age 38, he’s averaging 28.9 points per game and is coming off his fourth NBA title. He’s been named All-NBA 19 times and is a four-time MVP.

What makes someone the GOAT?

The GOAT topic can be found in all sports, but what exactly makes someone the greatest of all time in their respective sport? Can someone be the GOAT and not even be the best player on the field or the court? How much does it have to do with athletic ability? How heavily is winning weighed? The GOAT topic gets thrown around often, but the criteria are never quite clear.

Tom Brady is widely considered the GOAT of the NFL. Why? He’s not the biggest, fastest, or strongest quarterback in the league. He’s not nearly as gifted as some players on the field with him. Brady, however, has put together the greatest resume in the NFL.

Brady has won seven Super Bowl titles. The now-retired quarterback cemented his legacy as the game’s best-ever by winning his seventh ring in his first year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Is that what puts him over the top?

Why isn’t Bill Russell seriously mentioned as the GOAT?

If Brady’s resume is what puts him over the edge as the NFL’s GOAT, former Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell needs to get much more consideration as the GOAT of the NBA. Sure, Russell wasn’t as flashy or as high-scoring as Jordan and James, but he’s as flashy as Brady is as a quarterback.

Russell was a dominant rebounder, leading the league in that department for five years. Although he wasn’t a dominant scorer, he averaged 15.1 points per game in his 13-year career. Twice, he averaged better than 18 points in a season. As a rebounder, he averaged 22.5 per game in his career.

In his 13 years in the NBA, Russell finished with 11 championships. Russell was also a 12-time NBA All-Star, finishing with five MVPs. There aren’t many, if any, with a better NBA resume.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference


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