A Year After Lashing Out at ‘Plumber’ Claim, Shaquille O’Neal Defends 95YO “Luckiest S.O.B” and Celtics Legend

Published 09/06/2023, 7:22 AM EDT

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It’s not new for Shaquille O’Neal to make his admiration for yesteryear NBA pros known. This time he’s celebrating an icon in the Boston Celtics history, a franchise Shaq ended his playing career with. Oddly enough, ‘Big Diesel’ was going back and forth about the players in this Celtics hero’s era a year ago, which left fans confused. It came up when JJ Redick made some debatable comments about that NBA generation.

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The commentary surrounds Bob Cousy, a six-time NBA champion who played with the Celtics six decades ago. In Cousy’s era, NBA pros had supplementary jobs. Shortly after his 95th birthday, Shaquille O’Neal is celebrating the legacy of Cousy despite his questionable stance a year ago.

Shaquille O’Neal revives Bob Cousy’s legacy


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An Instagram page shared a highlight Reel of Bob Cousy’s career with the Boston Celtics. “Bob Cousy was a magician out there,” read the caption. Shaquille O’Neal probably agreed because he shared the Reel on his Instagram Stories. He did not add context to the post, but the sentiment seems clear.

Dubbed ‘The Houdini of the Hardwood.’ Bob Cousy is consistently ranked among the best point guards in NBA history for his ball-handling skills. Hence the caption. After initially overlooking the local star, Celtics drafted him in 1950 and he played with the team till 1963.


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The 1957 MVP and 13-time All-Star would become a basketball coach at Boston College and was the head coach of the Cincinnati Royals, the team he ended his career with. He was also involved in the Celtics broadcasts during the ’80s.


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Cousy celebrated his 95th birthday on August 9 with a profile on NBC Sports Boston. He looked back on his career and said, “I’m the luckiest S.O.B. on the planet.” One of his biggest off-court achievements is helping create the NBPA. He watched with pride as current NBPA VP, Jaylen Brown and the Celtics ink a $304 million contract. That’s in contrast to Cousy, who in his last year as a player was one of the highest-paid players with a $35,000 salary.

Cousy remains a diehard Celtics fan, and the love is mutual. But last year, his name came in a different kind of conversation, fueled by JJ Redick and Shaquille O’Neal.

Shaq’s past comments on the Bob Cousy era

Redick was in the eye of the storm in 2022 when he said Chris Paul should be higher than Bob Cousy. His reasoning was that Cousy was competing against ‘plumbers and firemen.’


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As it becomes evident from Cousy’s last NBA salary, players in his era couldn’t rely on playing pro basketball alone. They supplemented their earnings with other jobs. Because of that, many players and fans believe the later generation of NBA players are levels above Cousy’s era.

After ‘Mr. Logo’ Jerry West slammed Redick, O’Neal also chimed in. “Stop it. Jerry West was correct. JJ ain’t got enough G-14 classifications to speak on the greats.” Oddly, a year after slamming Redick, Shaq shared another post on his Stories taunting ’50s pros for being ‘plumbers.’


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Whether he agrees on the ‘plumbers’ controversy or not, it’s clear he has respect for Bob Cousy. Regardless, Cousy has never commented on the issue at all.

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Written by:

Caroline John


One take at a time

Caroline John is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. She has been covering athletes outside the sports arena since the start of her reporting career. A writer at heart, she graduated with a degree in journalism from a reputed university.
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