On this day in Boston Celtics history, legendary big man Bill Russell played in the very first game of his storied career with the team, which happened to be a 95-93 win over the (then) St. Louis Hawks at the team’s home arena of the original Boston Garden.
It was the beginning of Russell’s career, which would see them win 11 titles. They also won five Most Valuable Player Awards (MVP), 12 All-Star bids, as many All-League honors, and induction into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Russell, however, played 21 minutes against the Hawks in this game. He scored 6 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and had one assist.
Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Russell would shoot 3-of-11 overall and 0-of-4 from the line, but his team was luckily able to eke out the win despite his poor shooting — perhaps a case of the nerves considering it was his pro debut.
Russell’s career would be over with an average accuracy of 44% from the field and 56.1% from line.
It is also the date former Celtics guard Jack “Dutch” Garfinkel debuted for the team as well, exactly ten years earlier in the team’s inaugural season in the Basketball Association of America (BAA — a precursor league to the NBA).
A product of St. John’s University, Garfinkel served in the United States Army during World War II.
He then played stints with the Philadelphia Sphas of the American Basketball League (ABL — another competing league) and the Rochester Royals of the National Basketball League (NBL — yet another competing league that would also merge with the NBA) before joining Boston in 1946.
In his debut game, the New Yorker scored just 2 points against the St. Louis Bombers (now defunct). He was 1-of-11 from floor and 0-of-1 at the stripe.
Listen to the “Celtics Lab” podcast on:
Apple Podcasts https://apple.co/3zBKQY6
[mm-video type=video id=01gmdktvndb4f9yc3s2k playlist_id=01eqbzegwgnrje4tv2 player_id=01f1jxkahtwnvzepyp image=https://images2.minutemediacdn.com/image/upload/video/thumbnail/mmplus/01gmdktvndb4f9yc3s2k/01gmdktvndb4f9yc3s2k-834df3bb6b832fdfa7ff0de57e67c2a9.jpg]