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Contact Person and/or Name of Organization Bob Cousy
Address: 427 Salisbury Street
City: Worcester State: MA Zip Code: 01609
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Robert Joseph "Bob" Cousy (born August 9, 1928 in New York City) is a former French-American professional basketball player. The 6'1" (1.85 m), 175 pounds (79.4 kg) Cousy played point guard with the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Boston Celtics from 1951 to 1963 and briefly with the Cincinnati Royals in the 1969–70 season. Cousy, born to French immigrants in New York City, first demonstrated his basketball abilities while playing for his high school varsity team in his junior year. He obtained a scholarship to the College of the Holy Cross, where he led the Crusaders to berths in the 1948 and 1950 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament and was named an NCAA All-American for three seasons. Cousy was initially drafted as the third overall pick in the first round of the 1950 NBA Draft by the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, but after he refused to report with the Blackhawks, he was picked up by the Boston Celtics. Cousy had a highly successful career with the Celtics, winning six championship rings, being voted into 13 All-Star and 12 All-NBA First and Second Teams and winning the NBA Most Valuable Player Award in 1957.
In his first 11 seasons in the NBA, Cousy led the league in assists eight consecutive times and introduced a new blend of ball-handling and passing skills, earning him the nicknames "The Cooz" and "Houdini of the Hardwood". After his player career, he coached the Royals for several years, and even made a short comeback for the Royals at age 41. Afterwards, he became a broadcaster for Celtics games. He was elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971, and in his honor, the Celtics retired his number 14 jersey and hung it into the rafters of the Boston Garden, where it has remained since. Cousy was named to the NBA 25th Anniversary Team in 1971, the NBA 35th Anniversary Team in 1981, and the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996, making him one of only four players that were selected into all those teams. Today, Cousy serves as Marketing Consultant of the Celtics, and occasionally makes broadcast appearances with Mike Gorman and ex-Celtic teammate Tom Heinsohn.
Position Point guard
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight 175 lb (79 kg)
Born August 9, 1928 (1928-08-09) (age 79)
New York, New York
High school Andrew Jackson (New York)
College Holy Cross (1946-1950)
Pro career 1950-1963, 1969–1970
Former teams Boston Celtics (1950–1963) Cincinnati Royals (1969–1970)
Awards NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
Hall of Fame 1971
Cousy was born as the only son of poor French immigrants living in New York City. He grew up in the Yorkville neighborhood of Manhattan's East Side, in the midst of the Great Depression. His father, Joseph, was a taxi driver who earned extra income by moonlighting. The elder Cousy had served in the German Army during World War I. Shortly after the war, his first wife died of pneumonia, leaving behind a young daughter. Cousy remarried Julie Corlet, a secretary and French teacher from Dijon. The younger Cousy spoke French for the first five years of his life, and only started speaking English when he started primary school. He spent his early days playing stickball in a multicultural environment, regularly playing with African Americans, Jews and other children from ethnic minorities. These experiences ingrained him with a strong anti-racist sentiment, an attitude that Cousy prominently featured during his professional career. When he was 12, his family moved to a rented house in St Albans, Queens. That summer, the elder Cousy put a $500 down payment for a $4,500 house four blocks away. He rented the bottom two floors of the three-floor building to tenants, so he could complete his mortgage payments on time.
Cousy took up basketball at the age of 13 and was "immediately hooked". The following year, he became a student of Andrew Jackson High School in St Albans. His basketball success was not immediate, as he was cut from the school team in his freshman year. Later that year, he joined the St Albans Lindens of the Press League, a basketball league sponsored by the Long Island Press. He developed his basketball skills and gained much-needed experience. The next year, he was again cut during the tryouts for the school basketball team. In that same year, Cousy fell out of a tree and broke his right hand. It forced him to play left-handed until his hand healed, to a point he became effectively ambidextrous. In retrospect, Cousy described this accident as a "fortunate event" and cited it as a factor in him becoming a better player. During a Press League game, the high school basketball coach saw Cousy play. He was impressed by the young man's ability to play with both hands. He invited Cousy to come to practice the following day to see if he could make the junior varsity team. Cousy performed well, and he became a permanent member of the team. Cousy continued to practice day and night, and by junior year, he was sure he was going to be on the varsity basketball team. However, he failed his citizenship class, and he was ineligible to play during the first semester. Cousy joined the team midway through the year, scoring 28 points in his first game on the varsity squad. He had no intention of attending college, but after he started make a name for himself on the basketball court, he started to focus on improving his academics and basketball skills to get into college.
In his senior year, Cousy once again excelled on the basketball court. He led his team to the Queens division championship and he became the highest scorer in the city. He was even named captain of the Journal-American All-Scholastic team. Cousy began to think of his plans for college. His family had wanted him to attend a Catholic school, and he wanted to go somewhere outside New York City. Cousy was recruited by Boston College, and he considered attending the university. However, the university did not have any dormitories, and Cousy was not interested in living as a commuter student. Soon after, he received an offer from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts just 40 miles (64 km) outside of Boston. He was impressed by the school, and he accepted a basketball scholarship to attend the school. Cousy spent the summer before college working at Tamarack Lodge in the Catskills and playing in a local basketball league with a number of college basketball players.
College basketball career
Cousy was one of six freshmen on the Holy Cross Crusaders basketball team in 1947. From the start of the season, coach Alvin "Doggie" Julian chose to play the six freshmen off the bench in a two-team system, so that each player would get some time on the court. As members of the "second team", they would come off the bench nine and a half minutes into the game, where they would relieve the "first team" starters. They would sometimes get to play between a third or half the game. Cousy was so disappointed with the lack of playing time, that he went to the campus chapel after practice to pray that Julian would give him more of a chance to show off his basketball talents on the court. Early in the season, Cousy got into trouble with Julian, who accused Cousy of being a showboater. In the mid-1940s, basketball was a static game, depending on slow, deliberate player movement and flat-footed shots, different from Cousy's uptempo, streetball-like game defined by ambidextrous, behind-the-back dribbles, and also by no-look, behind-the-back and half-court passes. Nonetheless, Cousy had enough playing time in games to score 227 points for the season, finishing with the third-highest total on the team. The team, with stars George Kaftan and Joe Mullaney, finished the 1946–47 basketball season with a 24–3 record.
The team entered the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament as the last seed in the 8-team tournament. In the first match, Holy Cross defeated the United States Naval Academy in front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden by a score of 55 to 47. Mullaney led the team in scoring with 18 points, mostly in part to Navy coach Ben Carnevale's decision to have his players back off from Mullaney, who was reputed as being more of a playmaker than a shooter. In the semi-final match, Holy Cross faced the City College of New York (CCNY), coached by Nat Holman, one of the game's earliest innovators. The Crusaders, led by Kaftan's 30-point game, easily defeated the Beavers 60–45. In the championship game, Holy Cross faced the University of Oklahoma, behind coach Bruce Drake, in another sold-out game at Madison Square Garden. Kaftan followed up the semi-final match with 18 points in the title game, leading the Crusaders to a 58–47 victory against the Sooners. Cousy played poorly, scoring four points on 2-for-13 shooting from the court. Holy Cross became the first college from the New England area to win a national college basketball title. The team received a hero's welcome when they arrived to a crowd of 10,000 people at Union Station in Worcester, Massachusetts.
The following season, Julian limited Cousy's playing time, to the point that the frustrated sophomore contemplated a transfer. Cousy wrote a letter to basketball coach of St. John's University in New York, Joe Lapchick, informing him that he was considering a transfer to the university. Lapchick replied to Cousy, telling him that Julian was "one of the finest basketball coaches in America," and that he was not restricting Cousy's playing time under bad intentions. He told Cousy that Julian would use him more often during his later years with the team. Lapchick wrote that transferring was very risky, and according to NCAA rules, Cousy would have to wait a year before becoming eligible to play on the university basketball team.
Cousy's fate changed in a match against Loyola of Chicago at the Boston Garden. With five minutes left to play and Holy Cross trailing, the crowd started to chant "We want Cousy! We want Cousy!" until coach Julian relented. In these few minutes, Cousy scored 11 points and hit a game-winning buzzer beater after a behind-the-back dribble. The performance established him on the school team, and he led Holy Cross to 26 consecutive wins and second place in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) and became a three-time All-American.
The first years (1950-56)
Cousy turned professional and made himself available for the 1950 NBA Draft at a time when the local Boston Celtics had just concluded the 1949-50 NBA season with a poor 22–46 win-loss record and had the first draft pick. It was strongly anticipated that they would draft the highly coveted local favorite Cousy. However, coach Red Auerbach snubbed him in favour of center Charlie Share, commenting: "I'm supposed to win, not go after local yokels". The local press strongly criticised Auerbach, but other scouts were also sceptical about Cousy, viewing him as being flamboyant but ineffective. One scout wrote in his report: "The first time he tries that fancy Dan stuff in this league, they'll cram the ball down his throat."
As a result, the Tri-Cities Blackhawks drafted Cousy, but the point guard was unenthusiastic about his new employer. Cousy was trying to establish a driving school in Worcester, Massachusetts and did not want to move into a left field consisting of three small towns of Moline, Rock Island and Davenport. As compensation for having to give up his driving school, Cousy demanded a salary of $10,000 from Blackhawks owner Bob Kerner. When Kerner only offered him $6,000, Cousy refused to report. The latter was then picked up by the Chicago Stags, but when they folded, league Commissioner Maurice Podoloff declared three Stags available for a dispersal draft: Stags scoring champion Max Zaslofsky, Andy Phillip and Cousy. Walter A. Brown, owner of the Boston Celtics, was one of the three club bosses invited. He later made it clear that he was hoping for Zaslofsky, would have tolerated Phillip, and did not want Cousy. When the Celtics drew Cousy, Brown confessed: "I could have fallen to the floor." Hence, Cousy became a Celtic, with Brown reluctantly giving him a $9,000 salary.
It was not long before both Auerbach and Brown changed their minds. With an average of 15.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists a game, Cousy received the first of his 13 consecutive All-NBA Team call-ups, and led a Celtics team with future Hall-of-Famer Ed Macauley and Bones McKinney to a 39–30 record in the 1950-51 NBA season. However, in the 1951 NBA Playoffs, the Celtics were beaten by the New York Knicks. The next year, the Celtics added future Hall-of-Fame guard Bill Sharman in the 1951 NBA Draft, and by averaging 21.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game, Cousy earned his first All-NBA First Team nomination. Nonetheless, the Celtics stranded again against the Knicks in the 1952 NBA Playoffs.
In the following season, Cousy made further progress. Averaging 7.7 assists per game, he won the first of his eight consecutive assists titles. These numbers were made despite the fact that the NBA had not yet introduced the shot clock, making the game static and putting prolific assist givers at a disadvantage. Powered by Auerbach's quick fastbreak-dominated tactics, the Celtics won 46 games and beat the Syracuse Nationals 2–0 in the 1953 NBA Playoffs. The second match ended 111–105 in a quadruple-overtime thriller, in which Cousy had a much-lauded game. Despite nursing an injured leg, he scored 25 points in regulation time, scored 6 of his team's 9 points in first overtime, hit a clutch free shot in the last seconds, and scored all four Celtics points in the second period of overtime. Cousy scored another 8 in the third, among them a 25-foot (7.6 m) buzzer beater, and in the fourth overtime, he scored 9 of 12 Celtics points. Cousy ended the game playing 66 minutes, and scoring 50 points after making a still-standing record of 30 free throws in 32 attempts. This game is regarded by the NBA as one of the finest scoring feats ever, in line with Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game. However, for the third time in a row, the Knicks defeated the Celtics in the next round.
In the next three years, Cousy firmly established himself as one of the best point guards of the league. Leading the league in assists again in all three seasons, and averaging 20 points and 7 rebounds, the versatile Cousy earned himself three further All-NBA First Team and All-Star honors, and was also Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the NBA All-Star game in 1954.  In terms of playing style, Cousy introduced an array of visually attractive street basketball moves, described by the NBA as a mix of ambidextrous, behind-the-back dribbling and "no-look passes, behind-the-back feeds or half-court fastbreak launches". Cousy's modus operandi contrasted with the rest of the NBA, which was dominated by muscular low post scorers and deliberate flat-footed set shooters. Soon, he was called "Houdini of the Hardwood" after the magician Harry Houdini. Cousy's crowd-pleasing and effective play drew the crowd into the Boston Garden and also won over coach Auerbach, who no longer saw him as a liability, but as an essential building block for the future.
The Celtics eventually added two talented forwards, namely future Hall-of-Famer Frank Ramsey and defensive specialist Jim Loscutoff. Along with Celtics colleague Bob Brannum, Loscutoff also became Cousy's unofficial bodyguard, retaliating against opposing players who would try to hurt him. The Celtics were unable to make their mark in the 1954, 1955 and 1956 NBA Playoffs, where they lost three times in a row against the Nationals of Hall-of-fame forward Dolph Schayes. Cousy attributed the shortcomings to fatigue, stating: "We would get tired in the end and could not get the ball". As a result, Auerbach sought a defensive center who could both get easy rebounds, initiate fastbreaks and close out games.
Dynasty years (1956-63)
In the 1956 NBA Draft, Auerbach acquired three future Hall-of-Famers: forward Tom Heinsohn, guard K.C. Jones and defensive center Bill Russell. Powered by these new recruits, the Celtics went 44–28 in the regular season, and Cousy averaged 20.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and a league-leading 7.5 assists, earning his first NBA Most Valuable Player Award; he also won his second NBA All-Star Game MVP award. The Celtics reached the 1957 NBA Finals, and powered by Cousy on offense and rugged center Russell on defense, they beat the Hawks 4–3, who were noted for future Hall-of-Fame power forward Bob Pettit and former teammates Macauley and Hagan. Cousy finally won his first title.
In the 1957-58 NBA season, Cousy had yet another highly productive year, with his 20.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game leading to nominations into the All-NBA First Team and the All-Star team. He again led the NBA in assists. The Celtics reached the 1958 NBA Finals against the Hawks, but when Russell succumbed to a foot injury in Game 3, the Celtics faded and bowed out four games to two. This was the last losing NBA playoff series in which Cousy would play.
In the following 1958-59 NBA season, the Celtics took revenge on their opposition, powered by an inspired Cousy, who averaged 20.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and a league-high 8.6 assists a game, won yet another assists title and another pair of All-NBA First Team and All-Star team nominations. Late in the season, Cousy reasserted his playmaking dominance by setting an NBA record with 28 assists in a game against the Minneapolis Lakers. While this record was eventually broken some 19 years later, Cousy's 19 assists in a single half has never been surpassed. The Celtics stormed through the playoffs and, behind Cousy's 51 total assists (still a record for a four-game NBA Finals series), defeated the Minneapolis Lakers in the first 4–0 sweep ever in the NBA Finals.
In the 1959-60 NBA season, Cousy was again productive, his 19.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 9.5 assists per game earning him his eighth consecutive assists title and another joint All-NBA First Team and All-Star team nomination. Again, the Celtics defeated all opposition and won the 1960 NBA Finals 4–3 against the Hawks. A year later, the 32-year-old Cousy scored 18.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game, winning another pair of All-NBA First Team and All-Star nominations, but failing to win the assists crown after eight consecutive seasons. However, the Celtics won the 1961 NBA Finals after convincingly beating the Hawks 4–1.
In the 1961-62 NBA season, the aging Cousy slowly began to fade statistically, averaging 15.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 7.8 assists, and was voted into the All-NBA Second Team after ten consecutive First Team nominations. Still, he enjoyed a satisfying post-season, winning the 1962 NBA Finals after two closely fought 4–3 battles against two upcoming teams, the Philadelphia Warriors of Wilt Chamberlain and then the Los Angeles Lakers of Hall-of-Famers Elgin Baylor and Jerry West. The Finals series against the Lakers was especially dramatic, because Lakers guard Frank Selvy failed to make a last-second buzzer beater shot in Game 7 which would have won the Los Angeles the title. Finally, in the last season of his career, Cousy averaged 13.2 points, 2.5 rebounds and 6.8 points, and collected one last All-Star and All-NBA Second Team nomination. In the 1963 NBA Finals, the Celtics again won 4–2 against the Lakers, and Cousy finished his career on a high note: in the fourth quarter of Game 6, Cousy sprained an ankle and had to be helped to the bench. He went back in with the Lakers ahead by a point. Although he did not score again, his was credited with providing an emotional lift that carried the Celtics to victory 112–109. The game ended with Cousy throwing the ball into the rafters.
At age 35, Cousy ended his playing career. The farewell ceremony in a packed Boston Garden became known as the Boston Tear Party, when the veteran point guard was rendered speechless by a 20-minute speech that was only meant to be seven minutes long. Joe Dillon, a water worker and devoted Celtics fan screamed "We love ya, Cooz", breaking the tension and the crowd went into cheers. As a testament to Cousy's legacy, President John F. Kennedy wired to Cousy: "The game bears an indelible stamp of your rare skills and competitive daring."
After retiring as a player, Cousy published his autobiography Basketball Is My Life in 1963, and in the same year, he became coach at Boston College. In his six seasons there, he had a record of 117 wins and 38 losses and was named New England Coach of the Year for 1968 and 1969. Cousy led the Eagles to three NIT appearances including a berth at the 1969 NIT Championship and two National Collegiate Athletic Association tournaments including a berth at the 1967 Eastern Regional Finals. However, he grew bored wth college basketball and made his return to the NBA as coach of the Cincinnati Royals, team of fellow Hall-of-Fame point guard Oscar Robertson. He later said about this engagement: "I did it for the money. I was made the offer I couldn't refuse." In 1970, the 41-year-old Cousy even made a late-season comeback as a player to boost ticket sales. Despite his meager output of a cumulated 5 points in 34 minutes of play time in seven games, ticket sales jumped by 77 percent. However, Cousy stepped down as coach early in the 1973-74 NBA season with a mediocre 141–209 record. In later life, Cousy was Commissioner of the American Soccer League from 1974 to 1979, and he has been a color analyst on Celtics telecasts since the 1980s." In addition, he had a cameo role in the basketball film Blue Chips in 1993. Today, he is a Marketing Consultant of the Celtics.
In his 13-year, 924-game NBA career, Cousy finished with 16,960 points, 4,786 rebounds and 6,955 assists, translating to averages of 18.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. He was regarded as the first great point guard of the NBA, winning eight of the first 11 assist titles in the league, all of them en bloc, and had a highly successful career, winning six NBA titles, one MVP award, 13 All-Star and 12 All-NBA First and Second Team call-ups and two All-Star MVP awards. With his eye-catching dribbling and unorthodox passing, Cousy popularised modern guard play and raised the profile of the Boston Celtics and the entire NBA. His fast-paced playing style was later emulated by the likes of Pete Maravich and Magic Johnson.
In recognition of his feats, Cousy was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971 and was honored by the Boston Celtics franchise which retired his number 14 jersey. Celtics owner Walter Brown said: "The Celtics wouldn't be here without him [Cousy]. He made basketball in this town. If he had played in New York he would have been the biggest thing since [New York Yankees baseball legend] Babe Ruth. I think he is anyway." In addition, on May 11, 2006, ESPN.com rated Cousy as the fifth greatest point guard of all time, lauding him as "ahead of his time with his ballhandling and passing skills" and pointing out he is only one of four point guards ever to win a NBA Most Valuable Player award.
Cousy married his college sweetheart Missie Ritterbusch in December 1950, who has since been his spouse for over 50 years. They live in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Cousy was known for his anti-racist attitude, a result of his upbringing in a multicultural environment. In 1950, the Celtics played a match in the then-segregated city of Charlotte, North Carolina, and teammate Chuck Cooper — the first African-American in NBA history to be drafted — would have been denied a hotel room. Instead of taking the hotel room, Cousy insisted on travelling with Cooper on an uncomfortable overnight train. He described their visit of a segregated men's toilet — Cooper was prohibited to use the clean "for whites" bathroom and had to use the shabby "for colored" facility — as one of the most shameful experiences of his life. He also sympathized with the plight of black Celtics star Bill Russell, who was frequently a victim of racism. In addition, Cousy was close friends with his Celtics mentor Red Auerbach and was one of the few people who could call him "Arnold" (his real first name) instead of "Mr. Auerbach".
Source: Wikipedia.org at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Cousy
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