Arenas Questions Bill Russell's GOAT Status Citing Scoring Averages

Arenas Sparks Debate Over NBA Legends' True Impact.

by Nouman Rasool
Arenas Questions Bill Russell's GOAT Status Citing Scoring Averages
© Mansoor Ahmed/Getty Images

As LeBron James continues to dazzle on the basketball court, the debate over who is the greatest NBA player of all time intensifies, with many arguing that James is either closing in on or has already surpassed Michael Jordan.

This discourse has largely centered around these two icons, relegating other legends to the sidelines in the quest for the title of the greatest. Yet, when the conversation shifts to identifying the ultimate winner within the league, Bill Russell's name emerges with undeniable force.

With an unparalleled 11 championships in his 13 seasons, Russell's contributions to the Boston Celtics and the NBA at large are monumental. However, Gilbert Arenas, a former NBA standout himself, argues that despite Russell's impressive accomplishments, his scoring average disqualifies him from being considered the greatest player of all time.

Russell, who was instrumental in establishing the Celtics as a dynasty in the league's nascent stages, was known for his exceptional defensive skills and rebounding prowess. While his resume boasts 11 championships and five MVP awards, Arenas points out that Russell's scoring average never exceeded 18.9 points per game, a figure that pales in comparison to the scoring averages of his peers.

Arenas Challenges Russell's Legacy

In a recent appearance on Podcast P, Arenas expressed skepticism about Russell's greatness, highlighting the disparity in scoring averages: "He averaged 16 points, 18 points, and every other black person averaged 30, 40”.

This raises the question of whether Russell's scoring should diminish his legacy. Despite his lower scoring average and shooting efficiency, Russell's impact on the game and his ability to secure victories are indisputable.

He finished his career with an average of 15.1 points per game and shot 44 percent from the field, which, while not stellar, does not fully encapsulate his contribution to his team's success. It is crucial to acknowledge the era in which Russell played, which was markedly different from today's game.

The competition level and the structure of the league at the time presented a different set of challenges. Nevertheless, Russell's legacy as a winner remains unparalleled in NBA history. Arenas' critique sheds light on the complexities of defining greatness in basketball, underscoring the importance of wins and championships in evaluating a player's career.

While scoring efficiency and averages provide one lens through which to assess a player's skill, Russell's championship record is a testament to his enduring legacy as one of the NBA's all-time greats, proving that there is more to greatness than just points on the scoreboard.