One of the greatest passers in NBA
) history, Cousy was a key part of 6 Boston Celtics
championship teams in the 1950s and 1960s.
Cousy (DOB: 8/9/1928; New York, New York) played his college basketball at Holy Cross and was part of Holy Cross's NCAA championship team in 1947 and helped lead the Crusaders to a 2nd place finish in the 1950 NIT.
The last place Boston Celtics had a chance to draft Cousy out of college, but passed. Cousy instead was taken by the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. The Blackhawks traded him to the Chicago Stags, who proceeded to fold before the 1950-1951 season even began (The NBA was only in its second season and was highly unstable at the time). The names of Cousy and two of the other star Stags players were put into a hat and the Celtics, New York Knicks, and Philadelphia Warriors drew to decide who would get who. The Celtics drew Cousy from the hat, thus taking a player who they had passed on earlier in the year. Cousy had been a member of three teams...without even having played a game yet.
In his rookie season (1950-1951), Cousy scored 15.6 points per game (9th in the league), and added 6.9 rebounds per game (despite being only 6'1") and 4.9 assists per game (4th in the league).
The next season was even better, as Cousy totalled 21.7 points per game (which would be his career high; 3rd in the league, behind Paul Arizin and George Mikan) and 6.7 assists per game (2nd, behind Andy Phillip).
Cousy's flashy play established him as one of the NBA's premier players, and led to him being nicknamed "Houdini of the Hardwood".
In the 1953 playoffs, Cousy scored a then-playoff record 50 points in a 4-overtime game against Syracuse, including 30 made free throws, which remains a record almost 50 years later. Also in 1952-1953, Cousy led the NBA in assists for the first time, with 7.7 per game.
"Cooz" would lead the NBA in that category for 8 straight seasons (1952-3 season through 1959-1960). The Celtics made the playoffs every season, but Cousy and Bill Sharman weren't able to lead the Celtics to the championship. That all changed in 1956, when the Celtics drafted Bill Russell. Russell and Cousy would go on to form one of the great big man-small man combinations in NBA history (along the lines of Karl Malone and John Stockton in recent years, except with more playoff success).
The Celtics won the 1956-1957 NBA title, beating the St. Louis Hawks in 7 games, including an epic 125-123 double overtime thriller in game 7. Cousy was named the NBA MVP, with 20.6 points per game and 7.5 assists per game.
St. Louis would get revenge the next season, beating Cousy and Boston in 6 games in the NBA Finals.
However, the Celtics would rattle off the next 8 titles (1958-1959 through 1965-1966) under coach Red Auerbach, creating one of the greatest dynasties in sports history. Cousy was a part of the first 5 of those championship teams (and thus, 6 total).
Cousy went out on top, retiring after the 1962-1963 season, at the age of 34. He played in 13 NBA All-Star Games, and won the All-Star Game MVP in 1954 and 1957.
His Boston basketball success carried over to coaching, leading Boston College to a record of 117-38 in 6 seasons as head coach in the late '60s.
This success helped Cousy to become head coach of the NBA's Cincinnati Royals for the 1969-1970 season. A 41 year-old Cousy activated himself to try to draw fans to Royals games and also to attempt to motivate his team. It didn't work, as the Royals missed the playoffs. Cousy played in 7 games, playing only 34 minutes total, with 0.7 points per game and 1.4 assists per game, before retiring as a player, for good.
Total (regular season only), Cousy tallied 16960 points (18.4 points per game), 4786 rebounds (5.2 rebounds per game) and 6955 assists (8th all-time as of the end of the 1999-2000 season; 7.5 per game).
Cooz remained coach of the Royals (who became the Kings when they moved after the 1971-1972 season, splitting their home games between Kansas City and Omaha for the next few seasons). However, his winning college coaching didn't carry over into the NBA, and Cousy stepped down during the 1973-1974 season, with a 141-209 career coaching record.
Cousy returned to the Celtics soon thereafter, and has been a broadcaster for the team in the decades since.
Bob Cousy was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1970, and also was named a member of the NBA's 50th Anniversary Team in 1996.
In 1999, ESPN's SportsCentury selected Cousy as #94 on their list of the 100 greatest North American athletes of the 20th century.