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Original Issue


In the fall of 1950, when the NBA was still suffering growing
pains, the Chicago Stags folded. Their roster was dispersed, one
by one, among the other league teams until three players
remained. Their names were placed in a hat. Boston Celtics coach
Arnold (Red) Auerbach, hoping to snare forward Max Zaslofsky,
instead drew the name of the one player he didn't want: Robert
Joseph Cousy, the rookie guard who had dazzled New England with
his flashy, unorthodox style while playing for Holy Cross. The
disappointed Auerbach, anything but dazzled by his pick, dropped
the slip of paper with Cousy's name on the floor. If anyone had
suggested that Cousy would become a 13-time All-Star, Auerbach
would have proclaimed the notion preposterous. In his words,
Cousy was just a "local yokel" who had considered passing up pro
basketball to open a driving school.

Cousy was revolutionizing the playmakers' position (now called
point guard) with his deft no-look passes and behind-the-back
dribbles when he became the first NBA player to grace our cover,
on Jan. 9, 1956. He would help lead Boston to six NBA titles,
and when he retired, in '63, all of New England, including
Auerbach, wept. Asked if he and Auerbach have ever kidded about
their rocky start, Cousy says, "I honestly don't think we've
ever discussed it. Arnold's sense of humor is somewhat

Today, at 68, Cousy is a Celtics TV analyst who can often be
found on the golf course, playing for pleasure or with corporate
clients as, he says, "the weakest seven handicap in North
America." He is busy organizing the second Bob Cousy 6-foot-2
and Under International Basketball Tournament, which raises
funds for underprivileged children in his home city of
Worcester, Mass.; last summer the tournament attracted 560
players from 22 countries. Cousy has also served as a quiet yet
powerful voice in the recent push to provide better pensions for
pre-1965 players.

Cousy's broadcasting has enabled him to keep up with the NBA
game, which, he claims, has changed very little since his
day--except financially. Says Cousy, who was paid $9,000 to play
with the 1950-51 Celtics, "Today a guy with tattoos all over his
body, who changes hair color every week, swings at officials and
gets fined more than I made in my NBA career."

Cousy gets at least one old SI cover a week in the mail to sign.
"I don't know why people are still interested in me," he says.
"I guess after all these years pure point guards are still in

--Jackie MacMullan

COLOR PHOTO: HY PESKIN [Cover of Sports Illustrated featuring Bob Cousy]