Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom yesterday. This award is the highest civilian honor in the country. Cousy will join Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Michael Jordan, as the only veterans of the NBA to earn the award.
Bob Cousy, legend of the Boston Celtics and the NBA, was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom yesterday at the White House. If you know of Bob Cousy, you know that he is a person who always believes in doing the right thing.
The Boston Celtics drafted Cousy in 1950. Prior to becoming the “Houdini of the Hardwood”, Cousy won a National Championship with Holy Cross, in 1947. Before Cousy’s 13 year run with the Celtics ended, he just about accomplished everything a player could:
6x- NBA Champion (1957, 1959-1963)
NBA Most Valuable Player (1957)
13x- NBA All-Star (1951-1963)
2x- NBA All-Star game MVP (1954, 1957)
10x- All NBA first team (1952-1961)
2x- All NBA second team (1962, 1963)
8x- NBA assist leader (1953-1960)
Member of the NBA Anniversary Team (25th, 35th, & 50th)
#14 retired by the Boston Celtics
#17 retired by Holy Cross
Cousy probably would have won Rookie of the Year in 1950, but the NBA didn’t come out with the award until 1952. He brought an element to the court that was rare during that time… trickery.
During the 50’s, racism and segregation were part of normal everyday life. Cousy will be remembered for many things on the court, but off the court he was a visionary. Cousy tried to make the world a better place, one day at a time.
There was an incident in North Carolina during the 1950 season. Celtics teammate Chuck Cooper was the first African-American play in the NBA. Because Cooper was denied entry into the team hotel with the rest of the team, Cousy stood up for his teammate and refused to stay at the hotel.
President Trump had this to say about the basketball “Houdini” during his ceremony:
“Bob was right at the forefront of combating racism within the league. Throughout his long career, Bob was a voice against prejudice, racism, and bigotry.”
As previously mentioned Cousy is a person of dignity; always wanting things done the right way. The NBA didn’t have any health insurance or benefits to offer their players. In 1954, Cousy began organizing the first National Basketball Player Association (NBPA). Cousy would become the first president of the NBPA until 1958, when Celtics teammate (and legend) Tommy Heinsohn took over.
Cousy saw early on in his career that the players weren’t shown appreciation from the league. Therefore, forcing him to make change.
Match a player like Cousy with a coach like Red Auerbach, and you get a complete fearless team. Auerbach was a revolutionist. You could tell by the way he coached, that he believed his players should be as well.
As a former athlete, I would hope to have a teammate like “The Cooz”. I’m not talking so much about the “player”. Rather the “person” that he is. I’m honored to be a super-fan of a team that forced so much change in the world we live in.
Bob Cousy paved the way for what the NBA is today. Bob Cousy is the perfect recipient for this award.
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