Worcester Set to Unveil Statue of Celtics Legend Bob Cousy
Celtics Legend Bob Cousy will be immortalized outside Worcester’s DCU Center Friday afternoon, as the city that he has called home for more than 70 years will unveil a statue in commemoration of his impact on the local community.
The 92-year-old Hall-of-Fame point guard is expected to be in attendance for the 2 p.m. ceremony along with his daughters, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty and City Manager Edward Augustus, Celtics owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca, former teammate Tom “Satch” Sanders, and former broadcast partner Mike Gorman, who will emcee the event, according to the Associated Press.
Nearly 50 miles east of Worcester is where Cousy mostly made a name for himself, as he helped to get the Boston Celtics off and running to their first six NBA championships. However, before he blossomed into the Houdini of the Hardwood at Boston Garden, he had already become a legend in Central Mass. after starring for four years at the College of the Holy Cross.
Cousy joined the Crusaders as a freshman during the 1946-47 season and took no time in helping the team make history as he guided them to their first NCAA Championship right off the bat.
Cousy would be named to the All-American Team during each of the following three years, including his senior season when he was recognized as a consensus First-Team member. He helped to lead Holy Cross to two Final Fours and three Elite Eights, marking its most successful stretch in program history to this day.
Cousy emerged as one of the most touted prospects in the 1950 NBA Draft, but there was one problem: he did not want to leave the Worcester area. He was hoping to be drafted by the nearby Boston Celtics, who owned the No. 1 overall pick. However, Red Auerbach passed on him in favor of Charlie Share, who was traded the following day for future Hall-of-Famer Bill Sharman.
Cousy was selected two picks later by the Tri-City Blackhawks, but he was hesitant to relocate to northwestern Illinois, as he had been hoping to establish a driving school in Worcester. The city probably should have given him a statue right then and there, solely based on that notion.
Sure enough, Cousy did not report to the team and was instead picked up by the Chicago Stags. Of course, that did not help his cause either. But then, by a stroke of immense luck, he found his way home.
The Stags soon folded and Cousy was one of three players chosen to be available in a dispersal draft along with Max Zaslofsky and Andy Phillip. Celtics patriarch Walter Brown was one of the owners who got to participate in the random selection. Brown drew Cousy’s name out of a hat, later admitting that Cousy was the last player he wanted of the three at the time. However, the 6-foot-1 point guard soon proved Brown wrong.
Cousy immediately became a star in Boston, earning his first of 13 All-Star appearances during his rookie season. Those 13 years represented his entire career in Boston, where he helped to lead the team to its first six NBA championships. Along the way, he also earned the 1957 NBA MVP, 12 All-NBA selections, and was the league assist champion for eight consecutive seasons from 1952-1960.
After hanging up his sneakers in the spring of 1963, Cousy shifted into the coaching field, though he didn’t shift far. In the fall of 1963, Cousy took up a job just down the road from Boston Garden as the head coach of the Boston College men’s basketball team. He coached the Eagles for six seasons, which included an NCAA Elite Eight appearance in 1967.
Cousy finally made a brief departure from the Massachusetts area in 1969 when he became the head coach of the Cincinnati Royals. He served in that role for five seasons and even un-retired as a player to appear in seven games during the 1969-70 campaign.
In 1971, after retiring from the court for good this time, Cousy was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. That year, the Celtics also retired his No. 14 to the Boston Garden rafters.
Cousy couldn’t stay away from Massachusetts for long, as he returned to the Celtics to serve as a broadcast color analyst starting in the 1980s. He made many appearances during the team’s television broadcasts, commentating alongside Gorman and former Celtics teammate and fellow Holy Cross alumnus Tommy Heinsohn. He later took up a position in the Celtics front office as a consultant for the marketing team.
In the fall of 2008, Cousy had his jersey number retired again, this time at Holy Cross’ Hart Center. His No. 17 was one of four numbers retired on Nov. 16, 2008, along with George Kaftan, Togo Palazzi, and Heinsohn.
Nearly 13 years later, Cousy will once again be honored by the city of Worcester right in front of its hub for entertainment.