By J.D. Anderson
It appears more likely than not that Bill Russell averaged 7-9 blocked shots per game for his career; achieved at least 3 triple doubles during the 1968 finals, and averaged a triple double during that same ’68 series. (Apologies to Roger Goodell for the phrasing.)
In the coming days we’ll review the existing evidence, and add some new archival findings, to support that assessment.
It’s an interesting story that traces back through old NBA discussion boards, recent reddit threads and YouTube channels. It goes all the way back to the 1950s, and some great journalists — the precursors of today’s statalytic — who were agitating at the time for the NBA to upgrade its stat game for years.
The league added the “blocked shot” as an official stat for the 1973-74 season. In a way, though, Russell merits some credit for that too. “Russell and Wilt were the reason a lot of us started keeping track of those numbers,” as Leonard Koppett put it.
They not only changed the way the game was played. They changed the way it was covered.
Years later, thanks to social media, the ever-more-statified discussion of sports, and some elbow grease, a composite picture has formed. Stay tuned for further installments.
Previously by Celtics247
Respect Yo Elders: Bill Russell Jumps Over This Dude, February 26, 2014.
Possible to reconstruct blocking statistics for Russell?, RealGM, June 9, 2010.
1968 NBA Finals Issue, Sports Illustrated, May 13, 1968.