Wish Bill Russell a happy 82nd birthday today. He’s the greatest.

Sports Illustrated and ESPN recently ranked the 50 greatest NBA players of all time. Both polls named Michael Jordan the best player ever and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the second best of all time.

Bill Russell was No. 8 in the Sports Illustrated rankings, No. 7 in the ESPN rankings. That’s ridiculous.

Russell was hands down the greatest player in NBA history. He averaged 15 points and 22 rebounds per game over his 13-year career. And they never kept track of blocked shots in that era, so we never know what those numbers were but my guess is they would be as eye popping as his 22.5 rebounds per game.

Russell is the greatest winner in American team sports not because of his personal stats but because of his role and stature on the great Celtics teams. He won 11 championships in those 13 years. He was the player-coach for two of those titles. And in the most amazing stat in then history of stats, in 21 win or go-home games, Bill Russell’s record was 21-0.

Russell revolutionized the game of basketball with his defense. Bobby Orr is the greatest hockey player in history, not only for his skills on the ice, but because he changed the way the game was played. Bill Russell did the same in basketball. Throw in 2 NCAA Championships at the University of San Francisco and an Olympic Gold Medal, and you can begin to measure Russell’s greatness.

Don’t tell me there are 6 or 7 better players in history than Bill Russell because there are not.

So Happy Birthday Mr. Russell. You are the greatest!