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NBA legend Jerry West doesn’t appreciate the claim former NBA player and ESPN analyst JJ Redick that six-time NBA champion Bob Cousy played against “plumbers and firefighters.”
Redick made the comments in April when he and “First Take” panelist Chris “Mad Dog” Russo were debating Phoenix Suns point guard ChrisPaul.
“Let’s celebrate Bob Cousy in his era, but you can’t compare the pre-1980 era to the modern NBA,” Redick said.
“He was guarded by plumbers and firefighters,” Redick continued, as Russo argued Cousy “changed the game.”
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Now West shoots back, calling Redick’s comments “disrespectful”.
“Obviously the game is completely different, the athletes are completely different,” West said on Sirius XM NBA Radio. “And I only know JJ a little bit. He’s a very smart kid and all, but tell me what his career has been like? Count numbers.
“The only reason I’m talking about him is because he wasn’t an elite player, but he was a very good player. But he had a place in a team because of his ability to shoot the ball.”
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West’s NBA career coincided with Cousys for a few years, with West playing for 14 years from 1960-1974. Cousy played from 1950 to 1963 before retiring for six years. He made a comeback in the 1969-1970 season, appearing in seven games for the Cincinnati Royals. Cousy won six championships as an a Member of the Boston Celtics and was named a first-team All-NBA 10 times.
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“In my era, I was an athlete well before my team,” West continued. “I had a huge vertical and probably nobody in the league was much faster than me. And certainly the competitive part of it, I would still put myself below any player who played the game today. Only winning counts. That’s what drove me. And suddenly every year I felt better. We didn’t have the facilities to get better. We had to work in the summer to support our families.
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“JJ should be very thankful that he made as much money as he made. And Bob Cousy, who I played against for a couple of years… I just find it very distressing.”
Redick played for six teams in the NBA for 15 years and averaged 12.8 points per game.