Dave Cowens Rumors
He reminisces about his childhood in Newport, Kentucky. Cowens’ grandparents and aunt lived upstairs, in the same house as his parents and brother. His aunt would entertain with stories about getting to see Jim Thorpe (the only sports hero Cowens ever had) race with her own two eyes. Cowens thinks about that time; how his grandfather lived to see his 60s despite serving in World War I and then enduring the Spanish Flu, which killed as many as 50 million people across the world. “People are going to survive,” Cowens says. That’s true. But the coronavirus will still crash into so many different lives, and so far the mortality rate for those it infects is substantially higher in seniors with underlying health issues.
Andy Larsen: Jazz broadcaster and former player Thurl Bailey has been named to the National Basketball Retired Players Association board of directors, along with Dave Cowens, Shawn Marion, and Sheryl Swoopes. It’s a 3-year term on the board.
He played for eight Celtics teams that won NBA championships, filling different roles in each of them. For the first four, all in a row, he was a legendary sixth man off the bench on teams dominated by Bill Russell’s defense and offense from Bob Cousy and Tommy Heinsohn and Bill Sharman. The next two—everybody but Russell and Sam Jones gone—he was a starter and a scorer. For the last two, Russell and Sam gone, an entirely different roster with Dave Cowens at center, he was a veteran presence, a scorer, a star. He played so long he was part of two Celtics championship eras. He was named an All-Star in 13 of his seasons. “I never thought I’d play this long,” he once said. “I thought maybe eight years. That seemed to be the limit when I broke in.”
He was as amazing to his teammates off the court as he was on the court. Great attention was paid to his fussiness, his profound sense of order. He would hang up all of his clothes in his locker, even his socks. Who hangs up socks? He would arrange all his toiletries by height. Who arranges toiletries by height? He would take care of the bill at all team dinners. No, he wouldn’t pay the bill. He would go down the list, making sure each player would contribute for that extra glass of wine or that more expensive entrée. Who cuts up the check like that in modern-day sports? “Well, back then, nobody was making the big money,” Mal Graham, a Celtic for two championship teams, says. “These were the cheapest guys you’d ever meet.”
Dave Cowens was stunned when he heard the news that John Havlicek had passed. He knew his friend hadn’t been well, but he wasn’t ready for this. On the other end of the phone, he paused and sounded as if he was taking a deep breath. “Aw, man, I was supposed to see him maybe a week or two ago,” he said. “We were going to meet up. But something happened and they said it wasn’t a good time… Aw, this is tough.”
“What I hear through the Retired Players Association is that the younger players really have no idea about the past and the history,” Hall of Famer Dave Cowens added. “Yesterday, Caron Butler made the distinction between young baseball players and young basketball players. Young baseball players from, say, the Dominican Republic know who Roger Maris and Willie Mays are. I don’t know if today’s young players from Europe know who some of the [legends] are, especially if they played in the ’60s and ’70s. You wonder why that is, in a game with far fewer players than baseball or football? But that’s just the way that it is.”
“The (retired) players association saved my life,” he says. He was there when legends Oscar Robertson, Dave Bing, Dave Cowens and others fought to get retired players benefits. He will be forever grateful to the current leadership of the union, which includes Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, for setting aside the funds to make sure every retired player with a minimum of three years of service can be screened.