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Bob Cousy has harsh response to slight from JJ Redick

JJ Redick warms up before a game

Apr 12, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard JJ Redick (17) warms up before the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

JJ Redick is one of several people who have defended Chris Paul against criticism during the postseason. At one point, the former sharpshooter did so by downplaying the accomplishments of one of the greatest players in NBA history. That player did not appreciate it.

Redick and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo had a debate on ESPN’s “First Take” last month about whether Paul should be considered one of the best point guards of all time. Russo said Paul has had too many playoff duds to be placed on the same level as all-time great players like Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy. Redick strongly disagreed and said Cousy and others played in a much easier era.

“Bob Cousy couldn’t dribble with his left hand. Bob Cousy won championships when there were eight teams in the NBA and you had to win two playoff series,” Redick said. “Let’s celebrate Bob Cousy in his era, but you can’t compare pre-1980 with the modern era in the NBA. … He was being guarded by plumbers and firemen.”

Cousy may have had an easier path to championships than today’s players, but he helped revolutionize the game. He introduced a lot of the flashy point guard play that has become common in the NBA.

The six-time NBA champion was asked about Redick’s remarks during an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio this week. Cousy, who was booked by stellar producer Mike Pearson, joined hosts Justin Termine and Eddie Johnson. The Hall of Famer mentioned how he played against legends like Wilt Chamberlain.

“People with less talent will always try to make a name for themselves by criticizing other people and hopefully getting some attention and perhaps increasing their credibility,” Cousy said. “When you respond to something like this, you play into their hands. I won’t do that, but I will defend the firemen and the plumbers that he referenced.”

Even if Redick is right that Cousy had an easier path to winning titles, the “plumbers and firemen” comment was disrespectful. It is true that some players had side jobs during Cousy’s era. The reason for that is the game was not popular enough for everyone in the league to earn a living by only playing basketball. All of those players helped grow the NBA to the point where guys like Redick can make over $100 million over the course of their careers.


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