The NBA celebrates NBA 75 roster players almost daily from now until the end of the season. Today’s honoree is Celtics star Bob Cousy. This story, after he capped his career with a final championship, appeared in the May 4, 1963 issue of The Sporting News under the headline “Celtics Return to Title Track Farewell to Old King Cousy.”
Los Angeles California – Bob Cousy had a sensational farewell to professional basketball and bearded Bill Russell was brilliant as ever, but Tom Heinsohn came out ahead with two decisive plays in the sixth game as the Boston Celtics won a fifth straight National Basketball Association championship. .
A record crowd of 15,521 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, plus another 6,000 who watched CCTV at three Los Angeles cinemas, watched the Celtics score a thrilling 112-109 victory here on the night of April 24 and take advantage of the best of seven. series with a margin of 4-2.
Cousy saved his best playoff performance for the final. When he finished, he ended one of the great careers in professional sports. He finished his career properly as the all-time leading scorer with 2,018 playoff points, three more than the Lakers’ Elgin Baylor.
Russell Peerless Rebounder
But Russell, with a lot of help from Sam Jones in the first five games, was the big man of the playoffs. He scored well until the last game and was a robust rebounder throughout.
The great 6-9 pro started the dynasty that Red Auerbach has built. Russell is a big enough reason why the Celtics, despite the retirement of Cousy and Jim Loscutoff and the advanced age of several other stars, are not likely to give up the world title without a fight.
The tremendous defensive behemoth forced the Lakers, for the most part, to slow down their running game and take shots they didn’t attempt at any other center.
All in all, it was the most financially successful series with sold-out tickets at every game and Los Angeles adding additional fans via television in theaters.
The Celtics opened the series with two wins at home, winning the first, 117-114, as Cousy and Heinsohn’s streaks led to the final period victory.
Celtics Nip Laker Rally
They went on to make it 2-0 in the second when they avoided a typical Lakers rally in the fourth period for a 113-106 victory.
Returning to Los Angeles, the teams engaged in their third straight thriller until the Lakers opened it up with a tremendous fourth-quarter run that produced 36 points and gave them a 119-99 win, the only one-sided score of the series. .
Elgin Baylor, who finished as the leading scorer with 193 points in six games, and Jerry West, No. 2 with 177, were phenomenal in the final period, dividing 28 points for a total game of 80.
But the Celtics, opening with one run, scored the first win on a foreign court in Game 4, winning 108-105, after nearly blowing a 15-point lead off another Lakers streak in the fourth quarter.
The entire series was well refereed with four officials – Richie Powers, Earl Strom, Norm Drucker and Mendy Rudolph – dividing the tasks, and the fourth game produced the only real controversy.
With the Lakers trailing, 108-103, with 1:46 to play, Baylor crossed the key, collided with Russell and threw the ball to the basket. Powers called it charging Baylor. The Lakers’ hopes were dead and more than 15,000 fans were angry.
The clubs flew back to Boston for Game 5 and the confident Celtics had champagne on ice for a going-away party for Cousy.
Baylor, West Pace Revival
But Fred Schaus’ Lakers had shown their bravery more than once, and they did it with a spectacular performance, led by Baylor and West, who had 43 and 32 points, respectively, to score a 126-119 success.
Angry Boston fans were almost in an uproar in the latter stages of this one, with a spectator taking to the court to hit Powers after the referee had sent Heinsohn off for his second technique.
However, Heinsohn made up for his display of temper in the final, though for most of the game he had a hard time holding back Rudy LaRusso, a tough Lakers player at all times.
In the final, Boston, behind Cousy’s throws and passes, built up a 14-point lead at halftime. The Celts were still up 12 at the three-quarter mark, then had to fight for life in the final minutes.
Baylor, closely controlled throughout the series by Tom Sanders, and West led a late surge for the Lakers. LA was just two points down and had possession of the ball with more than two minutes left.
But Heinsohn made the first of his two key plays, stealing a pass from LaRusso and driving half the court for a layup.
When Dick Barnett made a three-point play (field goal and follow-up free throw), the Celtics held just a 108-107 lead. Heinsohn caught a missed shot from Boston and Gene Wiley fouled him while trying to shoot. He cashed in on both pitches and the Lakers were defeated.
Auerbach, who undoubtedly enjoyed this championship more than any other, especially when national magazines came out calling the Lakers the coming champion, couldn’t resist a parting shot:
“Los Angeles is not yet the basketball capital of the world.”
Boston had a jolt in the final quarter of the final when Bob Cousy, alone in the middle of the court, fell into a heap. He apparently twisted his instep, but after ice packs were put on him, he managed to come back in the final minutes to keep the Celtics from falling apart.
While Cousy will be missed, there seems to be no reason to think that, with Russell still around, the Celtics won’t be there or there.