CSG Certifies 1957 Rookie Card of NCAA and NBA Champion Bill Russell

Posted on 3/3/2023

Russell led the University of San Francisco to back-to-back titles before helping the Boston Celtics to 11 championships.

Recently, Certified Sports Guaranty® (CSG®) had the pleasure of certifying a valuable rookie card featuring a Boston Celtics legend: a 1957-58 Topps #77 Bill Russell. It earned a grade of CSG 5.5, propelling it to the top of the CSG Population Report. This is the only recognized rookie card of the two-time NCAA Tournament and 11-time NBA champion, and is the toughest addition to one of the rarest and most important basketball card sets ever produced.

1957-58 Topps #77 Bill Russell graded CSG 5.5
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The 80-card 1957 Topps set is considered to be the second official major basketball card release, following the 1948 Bowman set. In fact, another new Topps basketball set wouldn't be produced for another decade, until 1968. Therefore, the entire 1957 Topps set is highly sought-after by collectors, especially Russell's rookie card. However, the set also had a low print run, which makes the cards from the 1957 release scarce and hard to find.

The card features a front-lit image of Russell playing defense in a game while wearing the classic white Boston Celtics jersey. Additionally, the card features a yellow and red text box that contains his name and team. It is the top-graded of six examples in the CSG Population Report and is undoubtedly worth thousands of dollars in this condition.

Bill Russell is well-known as one of the greatest collegiate and NBA basketball players of all time. He led the University of San Francisco to back-to-back NCAA titles in 1955 and 1956, before turning pro and joining the Boston Celtics via a trade with the St. Louis Hawks. Russell would make an instant impact in Boston as he helped the Celtics win the 1956-57 NBA championship. To this day, Russell is one of only four players to ever win an NCAA title and an NBA championship in back-to-back years.

The 6'10" center would go on to become the winningest NBA champion of all time, earning 11 titles during his legendary 13-year career. That included a run of eight titles in a row, a record for any major US sport. Russell earned 12 All-Star Team selections and was named NBA MVP five times during his stint in the league. The Celtics icon was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 and the NBA's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.

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