The general rule of thumb is, Wilt Chamberlain collected stats, and Bill Russell collected rings. That's why we assume all monster individual performances from their era probably go to Wilt. Well, that way of thinking is not correct. Just because he sacrificed for the team doesn't mean Bill Russell never broke the record books.
On this date in 1960, Bill Russell made NBA history with a 51-rebound game. Grabbing three rebounds in the final 36 seconds, Russell became the first player to pull down 50 rebounds in a game. The 6-foot-10 Boston Celtics center finished with 51, breaking the NBA mark of 49 rebounds he set on Nov. 16, 1957. This mark was the best in league history at the time and solidified Russell’s place as the most dominant player in the game.
Coach Red Auerbach was told right before the game about Russell's chance for the record, so he let him play the entire 48 minutes. Russell got 24 rebounds in the first half and 27 in the second half in the Celtics' 124-100 romp over the Syracuse Nationals before 5,518 fans in Boston.
He also scored 23 points, making 8-of-16 field-goal attempts, and has five assists. It is unfortunate blocks weren’t counted at that time simply because Bill was one of the most dominant shot blockers in NBA history.
Chamberlain took notice of Russell's incredible achievement, and he couldn't just let it stand. It took him 9 and-a-half months to kick his buddy of the no.1 spot. Wilt grabbed 55 against Russell and the Celtics on November 24.
But don't think the 51-rebound performance was a total anomaly for Bill Rusell. He had 51 in one other game, 49 in two others, and 12 straight seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds. Russell finished his career with an astonishing 21 thousand rebounds after 13 seasons in the NBA.