Michael Jordan’s Legendary Coach Phil Jackson Once Made Bold Claim on Goat Debate: ”That Has to Be Bill Russell. He’s Won 11 Championships as a Player”.

Published 12/15/2021, 7:30 PM EST
(Los Angeles, CA – Wednesday, May 27, 2009) Lakers coach Phil Jackson whistles to get his team’s attention late in game five of the NBA Western Conference finals at Staples Center. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


Whenever someone sparks up the GOAT debate, the constant names are Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James. According to many, Michael Jordan is the greatest player ever, as the legend won 6 NBA Championships with the Chicago Bulls dominating the entire 1990s. However, names like Bill Russell are not often heard in these debates, despite winning several championships.

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The legendary coach of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls does not share the same opinion as most of us.

Who is the GOAT according to Phil Jackson?

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Phil Jackson coached the Chicago Bulls from 1987 to 1998 and the Los Angeles Lakers twice; from 1994 to 2004 and from 2005 to 2011. He has coached both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant and is undoubtedly the greatest coach ever. According to Phil, the greatest basketball player is Bill Russell.

The interviewer asked Phil if he could choose one player from history if he ever builds a team from scratch. Jackson didn’t say the obvious, i.e Michael Jordan. Instead, he made a very interesting choice in Bill Russell.

In my estimation, the guy that has to be there would be Bill Russell. He’s won 11 Championships as a player. I think that’s the idea of what excellence is when you win championships.” Phil Jackson said in the interview.

How good was Bill Russell?

Bill Russell has won 11 NBA championships and is one of the greatest players to ever play in the league. He has also won an Olympic Gold Medal in 1956, 5 MVPs, and is a twelve-time All-star.

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The 11 NBA Championships were won in 13 seasons, out of which he was a player-coach in 2 of them. This means that 85% of the time he was in the NBA, he won a championship!

The impact Russell had on his team was amazing. The Boston Celtics never made a trip to the NBA Finals before Bill Russell arrived, which just shows how influential he was. In the 1962 season, he sat out four games and the Celtics lost all four of them.

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He was one of the greatest rebounders in the league, and he had the stats to back it. He averaged 15.1 points per game, 4.3 assists, and an incredible 22.5 rebounds per game! (Source NBA.com)

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Abhinava Ghosh

162 articles

Abhinava is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor's in Journalism and Mass Communication. Abhinava has been following NBA for the past 6 years and is a huge fan of the Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry.

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