Dave Cowens

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Dave Cowens
Dave Cowens.jpeg
Cowens in 1976
Personal information
Born (1948-10-25) October 25, 1948 (age 70)
Newport, Kentucky
NationalityAmerican
Listed height6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)
Listed weight230 lb (104 kg)
Career information
High schoolNewport Catholic (Newport, Kentucky)
CollegeFlorida State (1967–1970)
NBA draft1970 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4th overall
Selected by the Boston Celtics
Playing career1970–1980, 1982–1983
PositionCenter / Power forward
Number18, 36
Career history
As player:
19701980Boston Celtics
1982–1983Milwaukee Bucks
As coach:
1978–1979Boston Celtics
19941996San Antonio Spurs (assistant)
19961999Charlotte Hornets
20002001Golden State Warriors
2006Chicago Sky
20062009Detroit Pistons (assistant)
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points13,516 (17.6 ppg)
Rebounds10,444 (13.6 rpg)
Assists2,910 (3.8 apg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com
Basketball Hall of Fame as player
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2006

David William Cowens (born October 25, 1948)[1] is an American retired professional basketball player and NBA head coach. At 6'8, he played the center and occasionally the power forward position. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.

Cowens has held numerous NBA head coaching positions. Most recently Cowens served as an assistant coach and then as a special assistant to Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars.[2]

College career[edit]

After starring in high school at Newport Catholic High in his hometown of Newport, Kentucky, Cowens played his collegiate basketball at Florida State University from 1967 to 1970. He scored 1,479 points in 78 games at Florida State, at 19.0 points per game, and ranks among Florida State's top 10 all-time scoring leaders.

He is the all-time Florida State leading rebounder with 1,340 rebounds (17.2 rebounds per game). He holds the team record for best seasonal rebound average (17.5 in the 1968–1969 season). He once grabbed 31 rebounds (second best all-time) against LSU in the 1968–69 season.

He was named The Sporting News All-America second team in 1970. His number now hangs in the rafters of the Donald L. Tucker Center.

NBA career[edit]

Rookie year[edit]

Despite some critics who felt Cowens was too small to play center, Cowens was selected as the fourth overall pick by the Boston Celtics during the 1970 NBA draft, largely at the recommendation of former Celtics center Bill Russell.[1] "No one is going to tell that kid he can't play center," Russell said of Cowens.[3]

During his rookie year, Cowens averaged 17.0 points per game and 15.0 rebounds per game. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team and shared the NBA's Rookie of the Year honors with Portland's Geoff Petrie. He also led the league in personal fouls that same year.

Middle years[edit]

In 1973, Cowens averaged 20.5 ppg, 16.2 rpg and 4.1 apg while helping the Celtics to a league-best 68–14 record. In that season also, Cowens scored 20 points, grabbed a career-high 32 rebounds and dished out 9 assists in a home win over the Houston Rockets. He carried the Celtics to the semifinals, where they met the New York Knicks. They won Game 1 of that best-of-7 series after Cowens recorded 15 points and 18 rebounds. However, they bowed out to the Knicks in Game 7.[4]

He was chosen the NBA MVP as well as MVP of the All-Star Game that same season. Cowens and fellow Celtic Bill Russell both have the distinction of being named MVP of the league but not being included on the All-NBA First Team.

The next season, Cowens averaged 19.0 PPG, 15.7 RPG, 4.4 APG and 1.3 BPG while guiding the Celtics to a record of 56-26. Cowens was instrumental in bringing the Celtics into the playoffs, where they defeated the Buffalo Braves in six games and the New York Knicks in five. In the finals, the Celtics faced the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. The teams split the first six games, with each team winning at least once on their home court. This led to a decisive Game 7, where the Celtics faced the Bucks in Milwaukee. The Celtics prevailed thanks to a strong performance by Dave Cowens, who recorded 28 points and 14 rebounds as the Celtics took their 12th NBA championship. John Havlicek was named the NBA Finals MVP.

As a testament to his all-around ability, Cowens is one of only five players (Scottie Pippen, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the others) to lead his team in all five major statistical categories for a season: points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals. He accomplished the feat in the 1977–78 season, averaging 18.6 points, 14.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 0.9 blocks and 1.3 steals as Boston finished 32-50.[5]

In his final Boston season, 1979–80, Cowens helped the Celtics improve to 61–21, after finishing 29–53 the season before. Cowens had served as player-coach for the remainder of the 1978–79 season (27–41) after Satch Sanders (2–12) was fired after a poor start.[6]

Alongside rookie Larry Bird in 1979-1980, Cowens averaged 14.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists under coach Bill Fitch. Along with Bird, Tiny Archibald, Cedric Maxwell, Pete Maravich, Chris Ford, M.L. Carr and Rick Robey, Cowens and the Celtics defeated the Houston Rockets 4-0 in the Eastern Conference playoffs, before losing to the Philadelphia 76ers with Julius Erving 4–1 in the Eastern Conference finals. Cowens averaged 40 minutes, 13.2 points and 8.8 rebounds in the 76ers series.[7][8]

Retirement I and II[edit]

Cowens retired as a player in 1980, as Boston drafted Kevin McHale and traded for Robert Parish to replace him at center. Boston then won the 1981 NBA Championship.[9] "I have sprained my ankle at least 30 times over the duration of my career, broken both legs and fractured a foot," Cowens said upon retiring. "Two years ago, a team of foot and bone specialists said they were amazed that I could play up to that point without sustaining serious injuries."[3]

However, in 1982–83, Cowens felt the itch to play again and talked to the Celtics about trading him, as they still held his rights.

"I think that would be best," he said of a trade. "The Celtics are set up front (with Bird, McHale and Parish). They could trade me, work something out. No disrespect to Bill Fitch. I'd advise any younger players to play for him, but I'd probably be better off somewhere else."[3] After first negotiating with the Phoenix Suns, the Celtics traded Cowens to the Milwaukee Bucks, coached by former Celtic teammate Don Nelson. The Celtics received Quinn Buckner from Milwaukee as compensation.[3] Cowens averaged 8.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 25 minutes per game with the Bucks, playing alongside Bob Lanier, Marques Johnson, Sidney Moncrief and Junior Bridgeman.

The Bucks finished 51-31 and defeated Cowens' old team, the Boston Celtics, 4–0 in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Bucks lost 4–1 to the eventual NBA Champion Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern conference finals. But, Cowens had been injured in the final game of the regular season, and was unable to play in the playoffs for Milwaukee.[10][3]

Cowens had played 40 total games for the Bucks during the 1982–83 season, before retiring for good.[11]

During his NBA career, Cowens averaged a double-double of 17.6 points and 13.6 rebounds. with 3.8 assists and 1.1 steals in 766 career NBA games. Cowens was selected to eight All-Star Games, was named to the All-NBA Second Team three times, and was named to the All-NBA Defensive First Team in 1976 and All-NBA Defensive Second Team in 1973 and 1980. He was a member of the Celtics' 1974 and 1976 NBA Championship teams.[11]

Cowens' playing credo was all-out intensity at both ends of the court, a style that never wavered during his 11-year NBA career. "He was quick, fast, strong and skilled, and played hard," Knicks Hall of Fame center Willis Reed said of Cowens.[3]

"No one ever did more for the Celtics than Dave did," said John Havlicek of his Celtic teammate.[3]

Coaching career[edit]

Cowens in 2005

He began his coaching career by serving as a player-coach for the Boston Celtics during the 1978–79 season, but he quit coaching after the season and returned as a full-time player before retiring in 1980.[12]

Cowens coached the Bay State Bombardiers of the Continental Basketball Association in 1984–85.

Cowens returned to NBA coaching ranks, as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs in 1994–96 and was considered for the coaching job of the Boston Celtics during the 1995 off-season.[13]

Cowens was head coach of the Charlotte Hornets from 1996 to 1999.

He was head coach with the Golden State Warriors from 1999 to 2001, a tenure of 105 games.

In 2005–06 Cowens was head coach of the Chicago Sky of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).

Cowens was an assistant coach of the Detroit Pistons from 2006 to 2009.

Player Profile[edit]

Dave Cowens was one of the few centers in NBA History who could score, rebound, assist, steal and block. He could affect his team offensively and defensively. Throughout the first eight years of his career, he averages around 14 to 16 rebounds per game in a season. Despite his lack of height against his fellow centers such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton, he is a good box-out player that could outrebound taller opponents. Aside from his rebounding skill, he is one of the few centers that have the skill to defend his rivals and converting it into blocks or steals. In his career, Cowens averaged 1.1 steals per game and 0.9 blocks per game.

Offensively, Cowens was not much of a scorer because he was not the main option to score in his team. Throughout his career, Cowens was a mediocre scorer averaging 17.6 points per game in his career. Even though he was not looking to score much, he provided his teammates with energy as he likes to facilitate the ball movement of his team. At his time, he became the fourth center to average 5 assists in a single season, joining Wilt Chamberlain, former Celtic center, Bill Russell, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. His career average is 3.8 assists per game. As of the end of the 2018-19 season, Cowens ranked 27th overall for most point-rebound-assist triple-doubles by a center in NBA History.

As evidence to his all-around ability, Cowens is one of only five players (Scottie Pippen, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the others) to lead his team in all five major statistical categories for a season: points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals. He did that in 1977-78 season.

Personal[edit]

In 1990, Cowens, a former Democrat, ran as a Republican for Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth. However, because he did not register by June 5, 1989, he was unable to appear on the primary ballot.[14][15] Cowens considered running a sticker campaign for the Republican nomination, however he decided to drop out of the race.[15]

Honors[edit]

  • In 1973, Cowens was inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.[16]
  • Cowens was inducted into the Florida State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1977.[17]
  • Cowens' #13 is an Honored number at Florida State University.[18]
  • On February 8, 1981, the Boston Celtics retired Cowens' #18. Celtics' #18 had previously been worn by Jim Loscutoff, who had asked that the number not be retired for him, so future Celtics could wear it.[12][19]
The Celtics retired Cowens' #18 in 1981.

Head coaching record[edit]

NBA[edit]

Legend
Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win–loss %
Playoffs PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win–loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
Boston 1978–79 68 27 41 .397 5th in Atlantic - - - Missed playoffs
Charlotte 1996–97 82 54 28 .659 4th in Central 3 0 3 .000 Lost in First Round
Charlotte 1997–98 82 51 31 .622 3rd in Central 9 4 5 .444 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Charlotte 1998–99 15 4 11 .267 (resigned)
Golden State 2000–01 82 17 65 .207 7th in Pacific Missed playoffs
Golden State 2001–02 23 8 15 .348 (fired)
Career 352 161 191 .457 12 4 8 .333

NBA career statistics[edit]

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
Denotes seasons in which Cowens won an NBA championship
* Led the league

Regular season[edit]

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1970–71 Boston 81 38.0 .422 .732 15.0 2.8 17.0
1971–72 Boston 79 40.3 .484 .720 15.2 3.1 18.8
1972–73 Boston 82 41.8 .452 .779 16.2 4.1 20.5
1973–74 Boston 80 41.9 .437 .832 15.7 4.4 1.2 1.3 19.0
1974–75 Boston 65 40.5 .475 .783 14.7 4.6 1.3 1.1 20.4
1975–76 Boston 78 39.8 .468 .756 16.0 4.2 1.2 0.9 19.0
1976–77 Boston 50 37.8 .434 .818 13.9 5.0 0.9 1.0 16.4
1977–78 Boston 77 41.8 .490 .842 14.0 4.6 1.3 0.9 18.6
1978–79 Boston 68 37.0 .483 .807 9.6 3.6 1.1 0.8 16.6
1979–80 Boston 66 55 32.7 .453 .083 .779 8.1 3.1 1.0 0.9 14.2
1982–83 Milwaukee 40 34 25.4 .444 .000 .825 6.9 2.1 0.8 0.4 8.1
Career 766 89 38.6 .460 .071 .783 13.6 3.8 1.1 0.9 17.6
All-Star 6 4 25.7 .500 .714 13.5 2.0 0.7 0.2 12.7

Playoffs[edit]

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1972 Boston 11 40.1 .455 .596 13.8 3.0 15.5
1973 Boston 13 46.0 .473 .659 16.6 3.7 21.9
1974 Boston 18 42.9 .435 .797 13.3 3.7 1.2 0.9 20.5
1975 Boston 11 43.5 .428 .885 16.5* 4.2 1.6 0.5 20.5
1976 Boston 18 44.3 .457 .759 16.4* 4.6 1.2 0.7 21.0
1977 Boston 9 42.1 .446 .773 14.9 4.0 0.9 1.4 16.6
1980 Boston 9 33.4 .476 .000 .909 7.3 2.3 1.0 0.8 12.0
Career 89 42.3 .451 .000 .744 14.4 3.7 1.2 0.9 18.9

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Dave Cowens". Basketball Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on October 30, 2006. Retrieved January 14, 2007.
  2. ^ "Pistons Roster". NBA.com. Retrieved January 14, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g https://www.celticsblog.com/2015/9/5/9237179/the-unusual-1982-trade-of-the-retired-dave-cowens
  4. ^ "Dave Cowens - Celtics legend". NBA.com. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  5. ^ 1977-78 Boston Celtics Statistics Archived July 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Basketballreference.com. Retrieved July 10, 2007.
  6. ^ "1978-79 Boston Celtics Roster and Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
  7. ^ "1980 NBA Eastern Conference Finals - Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics". Basketball-Reference.com.
  8. ^ "1979-80 Boston Celtics Roster and Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
  9. ^ "1980-81 Boston Celtics Roster and Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
  10. ^ "1982-83 Milwaukee Bucks Roster and Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
  11. ^ a b "Dave Cowens Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
  12. ^ a b Eskenazi, Gerald (November 18, 1991). "No. 32 Receives New Life on 76ers". The New York Times. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  13. ^ Writer, Michael Arace; Courant Staff. "Ford Reaches Point of No Return with Celtics". courant.com.
  14. ^ "Sports Extra: People". Daily News of Los Angeles. January 14, 1990.
  15. ^ a b Lehigh, Scot (February 23, 1990). "Ex-Celtic Cowens Bows Out of GOP Race for Secretary of State". Boston Globe. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  16. ^ "Florida Sports Hall of Fame - Dave Cowens".
  17. ^ "Dave Cowens Bio". Florida State Seminoles. June 17, 2014.
  18. ^ "Honored Numbers/Jerseys". Florida State Seminoles. July 5, 2017.
  19. ^ "Cowens's No. 18 Retired by Celtics". Associated Press. February 9, 1981. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  20. ^ "The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame :: Dave Cowens". www.hoophall.com.
  21. ^ "David W. Cowens".

Further reading[edit]

  • Heisler, Mark (2003). Giants: The 25 Greatest Centers of All Time. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 1-57243-577-1.

External links[edit]