Sixty years ago, Celtics great Bill Russell set the NBA single-game record for rebounds with 49
The big man helped hold the former record holder, Neil Johnston, to one field goal in Boston’s 111-89 victory
Bill Russell is a savage. We’re talking more savage than Michael Jackson in “Remember the Time,” hee-heeing, dancing and blatantly stealing the pharaoh’s wife right in front of him.
When the Boston Celtics big man set the record for the most rebounds in a game with 49 on Nov. 16, 1957, he did so playing against the former record holder, Neil Johnston, and he helped hold the Philadelphia Warriors center to a single field goal.
Russell wasn’t even in the game when Johnston, who set the previous mark with 39 boards in 1954, got that one field goal. When the 23-year-old Russell wasn’t sitting on the bench, Johnston was 0-for-11 on field goals and finished with four points, adding to the disrespect.
The Celtics beat the Warriors 111-89. Russell set the record for the most rebounds in a half with 32, which still stands, and Boston stretched its winning streak to 11 games.
The Celtics had a 52-50 halftime lead before opening it up in the second half. Russell led the way with 28 points and added four assists.
Three years later, Russell topped his rebounding mark with 51 against the Syracuse Nationals. Twenty-three times in his career, Russell had 38 or more rebounds in a game, and seven of those performances occurred in the playoffs.
But the same way Russell took over the record is the way he lost it. Playing against Wilt Chamberlain on Nov. 24, 1960, Russell watched his record slowly get taken over by the Philadelphia Warriors center, who set the new mark with 55. Russell almost watched his record for most rebounds in a half get tied, but Chamberlain fell one short in a 34-point effort.
The Celtics came out of that game with the win, so it wasn’t a complete full-circle moment.