“Boston Celtics really got Bill Russell in exchange for the Ice Capades?”: How Red Auerbach orchestrated the most lopsided deal in league history to help win 11 rings and more

Akash Murty
|Published October 04, 2021

Trades have a remarkable impact on franchises in any sport but this Bill Russell trade changed the entire NBA as we see it today

Trades lead to the biggest “what ifs” in sports. Its effect on the NBA hasn’t been different, imagine if Kobe Bryant was playing for Charlotte Hornets, would the Lakers have those 5 Championships?  

Or if Scottie Pippen was with the Seattle Supersonics or the New York Knicks, would Jordan have those 6 rings? Would Ewing be considered GOAT instead?

Also read: “Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird”: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver names the four former players on his Mt Rushmore

None of those would have altered a franchise’s existence as this trade did for the Boston Celtics. 

Bill Russell could have ended up playing for Sacramento Kings or the Atlanta Hawks

The Boston Celtics are one of the two best franchises in the NBA and Bill Russell is the guy responsible. Bill led them to 11 banners (Championships) out of their 17. But he could easily have been playing in an NBA franchise not named the Boston Celtics. 

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Imagine the NBA with Kings having those 11 championships or it could even have been the Atlanta Hawks. It would have been a totally different world.

The 5-time MVP was going to be the 1st overall pick in the 1956 draft, Boston Celtics had the 7th overall pick. The first pick was with the then “Rochester Royals”, the Sacramento Kings. 

Royals traded Bill Russell to the Boston Celtics for Ice Capades 

Boston sent its 7th pick to the St. Louis Hawks (now Atlanta Hawks) – along with Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan, for the 2nd pick. 

The owner of the Celtics, Walter Brown, was also the president of the Ice Capades. He called up the owner of the Royals– Lee Harrison — with the following offer:-

Brown would send the Ice Capades to Rochester for one week if the Royals would pass on Russell.  

Harrison agreed and with the first overall choice in the 1956 draft, the Royals selected Si Green, a guard from Duquesne.

Also read: “Shaq and Kareem? I Would Kick Your A**”: When Bill Russell hilariously trash talked 5 Hall Of Fame NBA centers at 2017 NBA awards show

Yikes!! That was one big daylight robbery.

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About the author

Akash Murty

Akash Murty

An Electrical and Electronics Engineer by degree, Akash Murty is an NBA Editor at The SportsRush. Previously a Software Engineer, Murty couldn’t keep himself away from sports, and his knack for writing and putting his opinion forward brought him to the TSR. A big Soccer enthusiast, his interest in basketball developed late, as he got access to a hoop for the first time at 17. Following this, he started watching basketball at the 2012 Olympics, which transitioned to NBA, and he became a fan of the game as he watched LeBron James dominate the league. Him being an avid learner of the game and ritually following the league for around a decade, he now writes articles ranging from throwbacks, and live game reports, to gossip. LA Lakers are his favourite basketball team, while Chelsea has his heart in football. He also likes travelling, reading fiction, and sometimes cooking.

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