86 years ago to the day, Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy was born in Manhattan, and the game of basketball was forever changed.
Nicknamed "the Houdini of the Hardwood" for his theretofore unseen dribbling and passing chops, Cousy spiced up the plodding, flat-footed, flavorless game of the 1940s and '50s with dangles, cross-ups, sleights-of-hand, behind-the-backs, between-the-legs, no-looks, trick shots, one-hand running jumpers, floaters in the lane, and boundless all-around creativity. 'Cooz was the game's first true point guard, and basically the progenitor of modern streetball.
Naturally, that flamboyant style turned off a bunch of stodgy coaches and front-office people around the league (including, it should be noted, Red Auerbach) early in Cousy's career; they derided him as a showboat - all style and no substance. They quickly learned how wrong they were.
When Cousy refused to report to the Tri-Cities Blackhawks (who selected him with the third overall pick in the 1950 draft) for failing to meet his $10,000 asking price, the Celtics scooped him up, planting the seeds for the NBA's first and still-greatest dynasty.
Cousy led the league in assists for eight straight seasons (1952-1960), played in 13 straight All-Star games ('51-'63), made 10 straight All-NBA First Teams ('51-'61), won the 1956-57 MVP, and helped lead the Celtics to six championships, including five straight from '58-'59 to '62-'63. He also played a key role in organizing the NBA Players Association, the first trade union among those in the four major North American professional sports leagues, and served as its first president until 1958.
Cousy was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971.
1962 - John "Hot Rod" Williams
1966 - Vinny Del Negro
1974 - Derek Fisher
1982 - Joel Anthony