Bob Cousy responded to JJ Redick’s ‘plumbers and firefighters’ comment


“We must have had the best firefighters and plumbers on the planet at the time. And I was very proud to play with them.”

The 1960 Celtics: left to right, Tom Heinsohn, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman and Frank Ramsey at Boston Garden. Boston Globe Archive

After ESPN basketball analyst JJ Redick made a dismissive reference to the quality of NBA basketball players during Bob Cousy’s career, the Celtics legend offered his answer.

Redick, speaking during an April “First Take” debate on the best point guards in NBA history, had an exchange with Chris Russo. Russo argued for Cousy’s inclusion.

“He was guarded by plumbers and firefighters,” Redick said, saying players before 1980 cannot be compared to those after. Russo disagreed.

In an interview earlier this week on SiriusXM NBA Radio with Justin Termine and Eddie Johnson, Cousy laid out his case.

“Less talented people will always try to make a name for themselves by criticizing others and hopefully getting some attention and maybe increasing their credibility,” Cousy said of Redick’s comments. “So when you respond to something like that, you’re playing into their hands. I won’t, but I will defend the firefighters and plumbers he referred to. And I’m just going to give you some of the names of those firefighters I’ve played with and against over the years.

“How about Bill Russell, the aforementioned player, not too bad,” Cousy added. “Wilt Chamberlain, do you remember this guy? He wasn’t bad. I guess he had to fight fires too. But either way, Wilt Chamberlain.

Cousy, 93, played for a Holy Cross team that won an NCAA Tournament championship in 1947 before helping the Celtics (for whom he played from 1950-1963) to six titles (including each of the last five years of his Boston career).

During the Celtics’ run in this era, he played against (and alongside) an array of Hall of Famers.

“Still the best, in my opinion, small forward that ever played the game, a guy by the name of Elgin Baylor,” Cousy said. “A few cheerleaders who weren’t too shabby, my colleague who also had a prize created [in his name]a guy named Oscar Robertson, who was pound for pound maybe the best player in the game.

“Jerry West wasn’t too shabby. The guys on our team, Sam and KC Jones, a guy named [John] ‘Hondo’ Havlicek wasn’t so bad. Tom Heinsohn, Frank Ramsey, George Mikan, Bob Pettit, I could go on and on. We had to have the best firefighters and plumbers on the planet at the time. And I was very proud to play with all of them.


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