The Celtics won with Bill Russell in the 1960s, and in later years it was Parish and McHale in the paint for Boston in the 1980s.
The Celtics also had success in the years after Russell retired and before Parish and McHale arrived, with centre Dave Cowens being one of the main reasons for their championship success in 1974 and 1976.
A 6-9 center with a variety of skills, Cowens greatest attribute was his effort. Going up against taller centres, like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dave Cowens more than held his own.
Cowens averaged 17.6 points per game, 13.6 rebounds per game and, impressive for a big center, 3.8 assists per game over his NBA career. For all but three seasons in his career he averaged a double-double for the season.
These numbers increased when the games became important as Cowens averaged 18.9 points and 14.4 rebounds in the NBA playoffs. When the Celtics won the 1974 and 1976 NBA titles, Cowens averaged over 20 points per game.
With range on his shot, Cowens could score from medium-range when needed. He was also able to score in the paint, using a variety of moves. With his offensive rebounding ability, Cowens was able to grab his teammates’ missed shots and put them in. He also had accuracy from the free throw line. Several years he shot better than 80% on free throws and his career number was 78.3%.
Cowens was the co-Rookie Of The Year, the 1973 NBA MVP, named in the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players, picked for several All-Defensive teams and named All-NBA second team three times.
After retiring, Cowens came back to the NBA in 1982-83 as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee sent guard Quinn Buckner to the Celtics in a trade for that to happen.
A regular participant in NBA All-Star games through the 1970s, he was selected for every game from 1972 to 1978, Cowens was MVP of the game in 1973.
He didn’t stop hustling in the exhibition games, in 1972 he had 20 rebounds in 30 minutes and in 1973 he shot 7 for 15 to finish with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Cowens was drafted by the Boston Celtics at pick number 4 of the 1970 NBA draft. There was a lot of talent available up the top of the 1970 draft as Bob Lanier went at number 1, Rudy Tomjanovich at number 2 and Pete Maravich at number 3. Future Celtic Nate Archibald was drafted in the second round of that draft.
Cowens was also a coach in the NBA. In 1979-80 he was player/coach for the Celtics, many years after that he was the head coach for the Charlotte Hornets, where he had two 50-win seasons, and then coached the Golden State Warriors. Cowens has also been an assistant coach for San Antonio and Golden State and was the coach of the WNBA’s Chicago team.
Dave Cowens was born in Newport, Kentucky. He went to Florida State, where he averaged 19 points and over 17 rebounds per game over his college career. In 1990 he entered the Basketball Hall Of Fame.