Many NBA clubs hold team meetings while they’re struggling. But not many clubs can invite a 90-year-old Basketball Hall of Famer to speak at those meetings.
Such is the luxury of the Boston Celtics, who brought in legendary point guard Bob Cousy to address the team Tuesday afternoon before its practice at the brand-new Auerbach Center.
What wisdom can a six-time NBA champion and 13-time All-Star impart on a talented but relatively young squad? Well, a lot. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge offered a sampling of Cousy’s message Thursday morning.
“I think he touched on just being a team,” Ainge said during his weekly interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich.” “He talked a little bit about the early Celtics days when they weren’t very good before (Bill) Russell got there.
“But he talked about how they had a good, deep team and some of the things they were going through today: guys accepting roles, and everybody has to make sacrifices to win. Just things like that.”
Cousy speaks from experience. The Celtics of the late 1950s and early 1960s were loaded, with NBA greats like Frank Ramsey, a future Hall of Famer, playing just 20 minutes per game off the bench during the 1962-63 season. The current C’s — who have scuffled to a 2-2 start — may not be that talented, but there still are plenty of mouths to feed, so players like Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris would do well to heed Cousy’s advice.
The former Holy Cross standout didn’t just lecture the team, though. Ainge also relayed one of Cousy’s anecdotes that cast a humorous yet eye-opening light about life in America prior to the civil rights movement.
“He told the players a story where Chuck Cooper, the first black player drafted by the Celtics, couldn’t get into the restroom,” Ainge said. “They had signs that said, ‘Blacks this way and whites this way,’ and they had a nice bonding experience. Instead of going to the restroom, they just went and peed off the edge of the platform at the restaurant. A bonding moment.”
Thumbnail photo via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports Images