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 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 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament 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 Assist (basketball) eight consecutive times and introduced a new blend of ball-handling and passing skills, earning him the nicknames "The Cooz," "Houdini of the Hardwood", and—as he was regularly introduced at Boston—"Mr. Basketball." 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 in 1971, and in his honor, the Celtics retired his number 14 jersey and hung it into the rafters of the Boston, where it has remained since. 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. 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 to 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, 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 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 careerEdit
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.
The team entered the 1947 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. 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. 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 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.
In the following season, Cousy made further progress. Averaging 7.7 assists per game, he won the first of his eight consecutive assists titles.
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 1954 NBA All-Star Game.
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) Edit
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,
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.
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.
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. 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.
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. Finally, in the last season of his career, Cousy averaged 13.2 points, 2.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists, and collected one last All-Star and All-NBA Second Team nomination.
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.
Personal life Edit
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. 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 "Red".
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