Dave Cowens - Celtics Legend

Dave Cowens - #18 - Boston Celtics

Center | 6'8" | 230 lbs. | Born: October 25, 1948

  • Played 10 of 11 NBA seasons with Celtics
  • Two-time NBA champion
  • NBA MVP (1973)
  • Chosen to 50 Greatest Players in NBA History team
  • No. 18 jersey retired by Celtics
  • Seven-time NBA All-Star
  • NBA's all-time leader in defensive rebounds per game (9.8)

Chosen with the No. 4 overall pick in the 1970 NBA Draft.

Dave Cowens

Dave Cowens - Biography

#18

When it comes to breaking the mold, Dave Cowens is the cream of the crop.

Cowens moved on from his collegiate career at Florida State, where he remains as the university’s all-time leading rebounder (17.3 RPG), to enter the pros as an undersized center. Standing at just 6-foot-9, he was smaller than most power forwards, but the Boston Celtics chose to roll the dice on him and selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 1970 NBA Draft.

Red Auerbach’s selection proved to be genius.

Cowens’ excellent rebounding skills translated just fine to the NBA, where he dominated the boards throughout his 11-year career. During his rookie season with Boston, in 1970-71, he reeled in 15.0 RPG. The undersized big man did his work on the boards at both ends of the court, but his specialty was defensive rebounding. Cowens was, and still is, the best defensive rebounder the game has ever seen with an average of 9.8 per game during his eight seasons in which that statistic was recorded.

During his 10 seasons with the Celtics, Cowens had at least five campaigns in which he averaged at least 10.8 RPG at the defensive end of the floor. We say at least because, while rebounds were tracked during his first three seasons, it was not noted whether they came at the offensive or defensive end of the floor. For that reason, we’ll never know how many of his 15.0 RPG in 1970-71, his 15.2 RPG in 1971-72, or his 16.2 RPG in 1972-73 were defensive. We do, however, know that Cowens’ career average of 9.8 DRPG through his final eight seasons remains as the highest mark of all time.

Just because he was one of the greatest rebounders ever to play the game doesn’t mean he didn’t offer plenty at the other end of the floor as well. During his tenure with the Celtics, which lasted for the first 10 years of his career, Cowens’ scoring average never dipped below 14.2 PPG. His high mark came in 1972-73, when he averaged 20.5 PPG.

The ability to dominate at both ends of the floor is the mark of an all-time great, and that’s why Cowens was yet another Celtic to be named to the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History list. His rebounding prowess was also key in two Celtics championships (1974, 1976), and assisted him in winning both the NBA All-Star Game MVP and the NBA MVP in 1973.

On Feb. 8, 1981, the Celtics retired his No. 18 jersey. Interestingly, he was the second Celtics player to have worn No. 18 and be memorialized in Boston with a retirement ceremony. Jim Loscutoff, the first of the two, chose to keep the No. 18 active, so the Celtics sent him into the rafters with “LOSCY” embroidered alongside the other retired numbers. That ceremony paved the way for Cowens to wear No. 18.

Cowens was later recognized by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as an inductee with the class of 1991.

His impact on the basketball world wasn’t solely as a player. Cowens delved into the coaching realm with three separate teams, including the Celtics. He served as player-coach for 68 of Boston’s 82 games during the 1978-79 season. The Charlotte Hornets (1996-99) and Golden State Warriors (2000-02) later gave him the opportunity to be a full-time head coach. He finished his coaching career with a 161-191 (.457) record.

DAVE COWENS

Height: 6'8 Weight: 1/2" 230 Birth: LBS College: FLORIDA STATE '70 Birth: 10/25/48
First round draft choice (the 4th pick overall) in 1970... traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for Quinn Buckner on September 9, 1982.

Regular Season Record
Year G MIN FGM FGA PCT FTM FTA PCT OFF DEF TOT AST PF-DQ ST BL PTS AVG
70-71 81 3076 550 1302 .422 273 373 .732 - - 1216 228 350-15 - - 1373 17.0
71-72 79 3186 657 1357 .484 175 243 .720 - - 1203 245 314-10 - - 1489 18.8
72-73 82 3425 740 1637 .452 204 262 .779 - - 1329 333 311-7 - - 1684 20.5
73-74 80 3352 645 1475 .437 228 274 .832 264 993 1257 354 294-7 95 101 1518 19.0
74-75 65 2632 569 1199 .475 191 244 .783 229 729 958 296 243-7 87 73 1329 20.4
75-76 78 3101 611 1305 .468 257 340 .756 335 911 1246 325 314-10 94 71 1479 19.0
76-77 50 1888 328 756 .434 162 198 .818 147 550 697 248 181-7 46 49 818 16.4
77-78 77 3215 598 1220 .490 239 284 .842 248 830 1078 351 297-5 102 67 1435 18.6
78-79 68 2517 488 1010 .483 151 187 .807 152 500 652 242 263-16 76 51 1127 16.6
79-80 66 2159 422 932 .453 95 122 .779 126 408 534 206 216-2 69 61 940 14.2
TOTALS 726 28551 5608 12193 .460 1975 2527 .782 - - 10170 2828 2783-86 569 473 13192 18.2
Three-Point Field Goals: 1979-80, 1-for-12 (.083).
Playoff Record
71-72 11 441 71 156 .455 28 47 .596 - - 152 33 50-2 - - 170 15.5
72-73 13 598 129 273 .473 27 41 .659 - - 216 48 54-2 - - 285 21.9
73-74 18 772 161 370 .435 47 59 .797 60 180 240 66 85-2 21 17 369 20.5
74-75 11 479 101 236 .428 23 26 .885 49 132 181 46 50-2 18 6 225 20.5
75-76 18 798 156 341 .457 66 87 .759 87 209 296 83 85-4 22 13 378 21.0
76-77 9 379 66 148 .446 17 22 .773 29 105 134 36 37-3 8 13 149 16.6
79-80 9 301 49 103 .476 10 11 .909 18 48 66 21 37-0 9 7 108 12.0
TOTALS 89 3768 733 1627 .451 218 293 .744 - - 1285 333 398-15 78 56 1684 18.9
Three-Point Field Goals: 1979-80, 0-for-2 (.000).