“The Cooz,” as he was called, was the first of the truly great Celtics. Widely regarded as the NBA’s best point guard throughout his career, Cousy led the Celtics to six world championships, was named to thirteen consecutive all-star teams, and led the league in assists eight times.
In a little-known fact, Cousy was originally drafted by the Tri-Cities Blackhawks and almost immediately traded to the Chicago Stags. When the Stags folded, three of their players’ names were placed in a hate, and the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, and Philadelphia Warriors were each going to choose a player out of the hat to be on their team. The Celtics, who had originally passed on Cousy in order to select 6’11” center Chuck Share, picked Cousy’s name out of the hat, and the rest is history.
Cousy played with a flair that was ahead of his time. His penchant for between-the-leg dribbles and around-the-back passes led to his other nickname, “The Hardwood Houdini.” While at first Red Auerbach didn’t take to Cousy’s flashy play, he surrendered the Celtics’ reigns to Cousy, and Cousy proved to Red that his style could work through all his success, both as a team and an individual.
For his career, which also included a seven-game stint as player-coach of the Kansas City Royals, Cousy averaged 18.4 ppg and 7.5 apg, boosting those averages to 18.5 points and 8.6 assists in the playoffs. When the NBA unveiled its top 50 players to celebrate the NBA’s 50th anniversary, Cousy was among the 50 chosen.
Many young fans will recognize Cousy as the Celtics television broadcaster, a position he has held since 1974.