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The Boston Celtics Best. Trade. Ever. (Ice Capades Edition)

Mr. Russell
Mr. Russell

The Bill Russell trade won our poll yesterday and I have to agree. The McHale/Parish trade was the biggest heist in team history in terms of talent out for talent in. But nothing had more impact than bringing Bill Russell to Boston. But the wheeling and dealing doesn't just end with the draft rights to Joe Barry Carroll and the other guy that I've already forgotten. Nope, the best part of that deal was the ice capades! Wait, what? Lemme let one of our readers explain. The following is from ramays comments in yesterday's post.


The Macauley-Hagan-Russell trade was orchestrated just right and in time. First of all, I've came across some lines about territorial pick rules like "If a team has multiple first round picks they forfeit their highest selection". It's not very clear in territorial pick rules, but if it meant any pick (including those that were traded in from other teams), then kudos to Red - because he saved the 7th pick for the territorial selection of Tommy Heinsohn and traded for Russell only after the draft, getting both.

Besides, at first there was no Hagan in the trade, and the 7th pick would go to St. Louis with Macauley, as documented in Auerbach's book:

"(Auerbach) called his old boss Ben Kerner, who by then owned the team in St. Louis. He offered (Ed) Macauley and a swap of first round draft picks - Kerner's number two slot for Red's number seven slot. According to Red, Kerner said, "Deal"."

But then Auerbach somehow managed to persuade Kerner to substitute the 7th pick with Hagan (who, by the way, was only a 3rd round selection in 1953 with murky future). There's also no way Hagan could develop well in the Celtics with Cousy, Sharman, Ramsey and then the Jones boys in the backcourt. Celtics needed a second big - and saved the pick for Heinsohn.

But that's not the end of the story. The Roayls had the 1st pick in 56. The Celtics had to lure them away from selecting Bill. There are many tales about why the Royals passed on Russell - a signing bonus that was to big for Rochester; Russell's threat to sign with the Globetrotters as he didn't want to play in a small market like Rochester; Russell's participance in the Olympics that left him out of the NBA until late December; and even some racial controversies with Russell. But this one story is my favorite:

Trading the Ice Capades for Bill Russell | The Wages of Wins Journal

The Celtics entered the 1956 draft with the 7th pick. This pick was sent to the St. Louis Hawks – along with Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan, for the 2nd pick. It was believed that the Rochester Royals – who had the first pick – might want to take Russell. Auerbach, though, had a secret weapon. The owner of the Celtics, Walter Brown, was also the president of the Ice Capades. Brown called up the owner of the Royals– Lee Harrison — with the following offer: Brown would send the Ice Capades to Rochester for one week if the Royals would pass on Russell. Harrison agreed and with the first overall choice in the 1956 draft the Royals selected Si Green, a guard from Duquesne.

So Bill Russell was traded for two hall-of-famers and one ice show.

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