What we’re gonna do right here is go back. Waaay back. Back into time.
Each Friday, SiriusXM will help you reminisce, as we hop into a time machine and relive the great sports moments of the past. Both on the court and off, we’ll try to bring you some interesting tidbits you might not have known.
Bill Russell and the 1950s and 60s
Eighty-two years ago today, Feb. 12, 1934, William Felton Russell was born in West Monroe La. We’d eventually come to know William as Bill, as in the Bill Russell who played center for the Boston Celtics from 1956-1969 and won 11 NBA championships over a 13-year career. Russell was a 12-time All-Star, a five-time league MVP, and is considered one of the best players in NBA history, known for his defensive prowess and his rebounding and shot-blocking abilities.
Russell’s Celtics teams were an incredible dynasty in the 1960s. Playing alongside legendary players like Bob Cousy, John Havlicek and Sam Jones, Russell never had to be to focal point of Boston’s offense. Instead, he anchored the defense, protecting the rim. And for the last three seasons of his career, Russell served as a player-coach, the first African-American head coach in the NBA.
Russell had some of his best in-game performances on his birthday. He grabbed 41 rebounds in a win over the Syracuse Nationals in 1958, and 40 rebounds in 1961 in a win over the Philadelphia Warriors and his most prominent rival, Wilt Chamberlain. (Russell and Chamberlain are the only two players to ever top 50 rebounds in a game, and Russell is second all-time in total rebounds and rebounds per game, behind Chamberlain.)
Russell was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame and the FIBA Hall of Fame. He is one of seven players in history to win an NCAA Championship, an NBA title and an Olympic Gold Medal. In 2009, the NBA renamed the NBA Finals MVP trophy, the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. In 2011, President Barack Obama awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his accomplishments as part of the Civil Rights Movement.
The 1950s saw the emergence of rock and roll, spearheaded by acts like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly. Johnny Cash fused rock with country for “rockabilly,” a hit with country music fans. Ray Charles and Fats Domino ushered blues into the popular music scene. Jazz rose to prominence behind artists like Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday.
In the 1960s, the British Invasion was in full effect. The Beatles dominated the charts, and other acts from across the Atlantic like the Rolling Stones gained popularity. Sub-genres of rock and roll began to form, including surf rock, led by the Beach Boys in the mid-60s, and the LSD-influenced psychedelic rock, led by Jimi Hendrix and The Doors in the late-60s. James Brown, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding were popular soul artists, while the Detroit-based Motown label broke high-tempo R&B acts like the Supremes, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye and the Jackson Five, who debuted in 1969.
Swanson frozen TV dinners debuted in 1954 and provided a popular alternative to a home-cooked meal. Deviled eggs were the go-to appetizer choice, while meatloaf and tuna noodle casserole were popular main-course items. “Baked Alaska,” a sponge cake topped with ice cream encased in toasted meringue was a top dessert item.
The 1960s saw crazed addictions to fondue and gelatin desserts at dinner parties, along with simpler choices like onion dip and pigs in a blanket. Chicken Kiev and beef Wellington were popular main dishes; you probably remember Don Draper and Roger Sterling gushing over a few servings on Mad Men.
Would you try any of those dishes?
Next Friday we’ll look back on one of the most important moments in American sports history, 1980’s “Miracle on Ice.”