Robert Joseph “Bob” Cousy

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Robert Joseph “Bob” Cousy (born August 9, 1928) is a retired American professional basketball player. Cousy played point guard with the Boston Celtics from 1950 to 1963 and briefly with the Cincinnati Royals in the 1969–70 seasons.

Cousy 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 Tournament and 1950 NCAA Tournament and was named an NCAA All-American for 3 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, he was picked up by Boston.

After his playing career, he coached the Royals for several years, and even made a short comeback for them at age 41. He then became a broadcaster for Celtics games. He was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971, and in his honor, the Celtics retired his #14 jersey and hung it in the rafters of Boston Garden.

His father Joseph was a cab 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.

He married Julie Corlet, a secretary and French teacher from Dijon. At the time of the 1930 census, the family was renting an apartment in Astoria, Queens, for $50 per month.

The younger Cousy spoke French for the first 5 years of his life, and started to speak English only after entering primary school. He spent his early days playing stickball in a multicultural environment, regularly playing with African Americans, Jews and other ethnic minority children.

These experiences ingrained him with a strong anti-racist sentiment, an attitude he prominently promoted 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.

At age 35, Cousy held his retirement ceremony on March 17, 1963 in a packed Boston Garden. The event became known as the Boston Tear Party, when the crowd’s response overwhelmed Cousy, left him speechless, and caused his planned 7-minute farewell to go on for 20.

Joe Dillon, a water worker from South Boston, Massachusetts, and a 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.”

In 1969-70, Cousy was the coach of the Cincinnati Royals. He briefly unretired as a player during the season and played in seven games. Cousy made the move to help his team and was well-paid for the effort. At the time, he was the oldest player to ever play in the NBA.

In the 1970-71 season, the team moved to Kansas City-Omaha and was renamed the Kings. Cousy remained as coach until 1974, when he retired. His record as a professional coach was 141-209. During his tenure as coach, his accomplishments as a player were not forgotten.