Honey Russell

Honey Russell (1902-1973)

Teams coached: Seton Hall Pirates, Manhattan Jaspers, Boston Celtics
Seton Hall record: 295-129 (.696)
Manhattan record: 15-8 (.652)
Overall record^: 310-137 (.694)

Career Accomplishments:

  • NCAA National Championships:  0
  • NCAA Tournament Appearances:  0
  • NIT Championships:  1  (1953)
  • NIT Appearances:  7  (1941, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957)


  • Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (inducted 1964 as a player)

Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

1949-1960 Seton Hall
1946-1948 Boston Celtics
1945-1946 Manhattan
1936-1943 Seton Hall

Honey Russell Facts

  • John David Russell
  • Born May 31, 1902
  • Died November 15, 1973
  • Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
  • Alma Mater: Seton Hall University (BA)
  • After his sophomore year at Alexander Hamilton HS in Brooklyn, Russell began playing professional basketball
    • Played for a number of teams throughout his career, often playing on multiple teams in the same year
    • Among those teams were various ABL and future NBL franchises and a stint with the Original (New York) Celtics
    • Named to four ABL All-Star teams (1926-29) and won two ABL Championships (1926 and 1939)
    • Russell’s playing career lasted over 20 years; he was inducted into the Naismith HOF as a player in 1964
  • Throughout his playing years, Russell also served as a player/coach on numerous occasions
    • He coached the Chicago Bruins, Newark/New Britain Mules, New York Jewels, Wilkes-Barre Barons, Camden/Brooklyn Indians and New York Westchesters, among others
  • His first stint as head coach at Seton Hall (1936-43) also came while he was still playing professionally
    • Russell built the team up from 5-10 in his first season to 20 wins and an NIT third-place in 1941 (his fifth season)
  • Later spent one season as the head coach at Manhattan, going 15-8 (2-4)
  • Served as the first-ever head coach of the NBA’s Boston Celtics (1946-48)
    • Was 43-78 in total, reaching the Playoffs in his second year (lost in the Quarterfinals 1-2)
  • Returned to Seton Hall in 1949, coaching the Pirates for another 11 seasons (making it 18 in total)
    • Reached the NIT another six times and won the NIT title in 1953 (the Pirates were 31-2 that season)
    • Retired from coaching in 1960 with an overall record of 310-137 (295-129 at Seton Hall)
  • Russell also served as a professional baseball scout with the Atlanta Braves, Montreal Expos and Chicago White Sox

Honey Russell Coaching Tree

  • Al Brightman (Anaheim Amigos, San Francisco Saints, Seattle)
  • Bob Davies (Gettysburg, Seton Hall)
  • Ritchie Regan (Seton Hall)
  • Bobby Wanzer (St. John Fisher College, Rochester/Cincinnati Royals)


^ overall record includes head coaching positions at the NCAA Division I level only