Bill Russell – 1955 NCAA Basketball Championship Award Plaque Trophy /w Bill Russell LOA

From the Naismith Basketball HOF website – “Before Bill Russell brought his marvelous defensive and shot-blocking skills to basketball, the game focused primarily on offense. Russell reversed the trend, initiating a defensive mentality that remains a focal part of championship basketball. Considered the greatest defensive center in basketball history, the agile Russell was a dominant collegian. Playing under Hall of Fame Coach Phil Woolpert, and with fellow Hall of Famer K.C. Jones, Russell helped the University of San Francisco become one of college basketball's most exciting and prosperous teams. Russell then turned the Boston Celtics into a powerful machine that overwhelmed opponents both defensively and offensively. During Russell's career, Boston won eleven NBA championships, including eight consecutive titles from 1959 to 1966. Russell's head-to-head battles with Wilt Chamberlain were legendary. Russell was a five-time league MVP (1958, 1961-63, 1965), 12-time NBA All Star, Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year (1968), and The Sporting News Athlete of the Decade (1970).”

The 1954-55 San Francisco Dons entered the ‘55 NCAA Tournament as the top-ranked team in the nation after posting a 28-1 regular season record. The Dons won their first two games of the tournament by an average of 21 points and advanced to the Elite Eight to face the Oregon State Beavers. Future Basketball Hall of Famers, Bill Russell and K.C. Jones along with their teammates, edged out a one-point win to move on and face Colorado in the Final Four. The Dons easily handled the Buffaloes and found themselves in the Championship game against the La Salle Explorers, the defending champs. Russell and Jones dominated the explorers, racking 47 points total on their way to a 14-point victory. It was the University’s first championship and the first of back-to-back titles for the USF Dons.

This HISTORICALLY Significant 1955 San Francisco Dons NCAA Tournament "First Place" award. Presentational plaque was personally awarded to Russell for his role in leading the Dons to the 1955 NCAA Championship. He was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and it would be the first of two consecutive seasons in which the team would emerge as the Champions of Collegiate basketball. Wooden plaque (9"x13") has a large "National Collegiate Basketball Championship" medallion affixed at the top. A metal placard below reads, "17th Annual Tournament' 55 First Place." A notably important piece as conferred to Russell in his formative years during while he was developing the style of play which would change the game of basketball. Hint of light natural age related wear.

What makes this extraordinarily important is that back in the 1950’s, Basketball teams generally did not issue rings for winning the National Championship.  Sometimes they would receive watches or medallions, but rarely rings.  In fact, it wasn’t until decades later that the players from this team received commemorative rings for their efforts.  As far as we know, this was the only team award that Bill Russell received for winning his first collegiate National Championship.

Includes signed letter of provenance from Bill Russell


Item: 12463

Price: $9,500.00
Bill Russell – 1955 NCAA Basketball Championship Award Plaque Trophy /w Bill Russell LOA