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The Beginning of a Celtics Legend

12.21.08 at 11:23 pm ET

On December 19, 1956, Bill Russell signed his first contract with the Boston Celtics.

On December 19, 2008, I went back to where he made history.

In the 1950s Bill Russell transformed the University of San Francisco from a small school in California into a collegiate basketball powerhouse. Russell, and future Celtic teammate K.C. Jones, led the Dons on a 55-game winning streak and back-to-back NCAA Championships in 1955 and 1956, shattering racial barriers along the way.

Despite their success, the men’s basketball team was forced to practice in various high school gyms and played ‘€œhome games’€ on random courts in the Bay Area. It wasn’t until two years after Russell left for the NBA that the Dons were granted their own gymnasium on campus.

Today, tucked away in the hills of San Francisco, there is not only a basketball court but a tribute to the man who put USF basketball on the map as one of the most notable collegiate programs in NCAA history. See more pictures of Russell’s legacy at USF after the jump.

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