Bob Cousy: 'Now I want to make it to 100!'

Bob Cousy: 'Now I want to make it to 100!'

Hall of Famer Bob Cousy, who revolutionized basketball in the 1950s and '60s, turns 90 today. And the former Celtic great feels good . . . both about himself and about the current Celtics team.

"Now I want to make it to 100!" the ex-Celtic guard told NBC Sports Boston's Paul Lucey.  "When I turned 80, the goal was to make it to 90 . . . being a goal-oriented person, I set that goal, not knowing if it was realistic. Now I want to make triple digits, with the proviso that I keep my marbles -- which, thankfully, I have to this point -- and can maintain some sort of a normal life.

"I’ll take it one day at a time, but 100 is the goal."

And he has something to look forward to: The upcoming Celtics season.

“Everything is in place," he said. "Celtics fans are in for one exciting season. The Finals" -- which Jaylen Brown guarantees they'll make -- "are certainly within reach.

"I don’t think they're quite at Golden State’s level, but that’s tough for me to judge just by watching the games on TV.  It will be a hell of an interesting year -- they'll win way more than they lose -- and they can beat any team on any given night, Golden State included.  I won't predict a title but I think they'll be in the top two."

One thing that gratifies Cousy is the way basketball has taken off in the nearly 70 years since his NBA career started in 1950.

"We used to sit in those dingy locker rooms and say if we could just get on those TV sets, this game will explode! We have the best athletes and the best game," he said. "In 1957, I was the league MVP on a championship team and I was making $20,000 a year (approximately $180,000 in 2018 dollars).  When I said the league would explode, I was thinking the players might someday be able to make $100,000 a year. But if you had told me that someday one player would make $44 million for one season like LeBron [James] just got, I would have said, 'Get that guy outta here -- he’s crazy!' But the game has exploded. It’s the number-two sport in the world [behind soccer] in terms of participation.

"Here football is No. 1, but they seem to be in the process of injuring themselves. So I think basketball is a close second.  It's good, solid entertainment . . . [but] where it is right now, I could never have predicted that.”

Celtics' Jayson Tatum reflects on 'surreal' workouts with Kobe Bryant

Celtics' Jayson Tatum reflects on 'surreal' workouts with Kobe Bryant

Jayson Tatum has already accomplished plenty in his young NBA career, and there are many more memorable moments to come for the Boston Celtics superstar.

But it'll be difficult for anything to top his unforgettable experience working out with his idol, Kobe Bryant.

Two years ago, the late Los Angeles Lakers legend reached out to Tatum and took him under his wing. Tatum opened up about the amazing opportunity on a recent episode of New Orleans Pelicans guard J.J. Redick's "The Old Man & the Three" podcast.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-76ers, which begins Monday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 6:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

"It started back when we were in the playoffs. Kobe was doing the 'Detail' documentary thing on ESPN," Tatum said. "We were playing Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals. We just played Game 1. So we got practice the next day to get ready for Game 2. Come back, sit down at my locker, look at my phone and he would tweet the link out. I saw Kobe tweeted me, I was like 'Oh, [expletive].'

"I literally sat there and watched it like 20 times in a row. He did a 'Detail' of me in Game 1. And then I guess he went through my agent and texted me. He said, 'Young fella, happy for your success. Stay focused. Keep going. If you're in L.A. this summer and you want to work out, just let me know.' I was like, I can't believe it ..."

Tatum even went as far as to call his workout with Bryant the second-best day of his life.

"It was just a surreal moment," Tatum said. "Just looking at him, remembering myself when I was a toddler, just a young kid watching him on TV and being like 'That's who I want to be like. This is why I love basketball.' He inspired me.

"Fast-forward, now I'm 20 and I'm having a one-on-one interaction with him ... Besides my son being born, that's like the best day of my life just to be in that gym with him and work out with him and learn some tips. I'll never forget that day, how I felt going into the workout, how I felt afterward. I just felt like that was the coolest thing ever for me. I'll never forget that."

Watch the full clip below:

It's clear Tatum will forever cherish that time spent with his hero. And there's no doubt Bryant would be proud of the player Tatum already has developed into at 22 years old.

Tatum and the Celtics will begin their quest for Banner 18 when they take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live starting right here on NBC Sports Boston at 5:30 p.m.

NBA odds: Celtics already huge favorites in playoff series vs. 76ers

NBA odds: Celtics already huge favorites in playoff series vs. 76ers

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers will renew their rivalry with a first-round series in the 2020 NBA playoffs, and the C's already are massive betting favorites to advance.

The Celtics went 5-3 in the seeding games and played really well overall, highlighted by a dominant win over the second-place Toronto Raptors. Boston also has a healthy roster entering the postseason with several of its best players performing at a very high level, most notably Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of the Celtics-76ers first-round playoff series. You can also stream all games on the MyTeams App.

The seeding games haven't gone well for the Sixers. They have a 3-4 seeding game record entering Friday's finale versus the Raptors, and All-Star point guard Ben Simmons recently left the league's bubble to undergo knee surgery. Simmons reportedly is expected to miss the remainder of the season, and without him, the Sixers are losing an elite player at both ends of the court. He averaged 18.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists in four games against the Celtics during the regular season, and Philadelphia won three of those matchups.

Sixers superstar center Joel Embiid picked up an ankle injury last Sunday and missed Tuesday's game before returning to Philly's lineup Wednesday night. 

Oddsmakers are pretty confident the Celtics will win their fifth straight playoff series versus the Sixers. Here are the latest betting lines for this Round 1 matchup, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Celtics to win series: -375
76ers to win series: +270

ESPN’s Basketball Power Index also likes the Celtics to advance, giving Boston a 72 percent chance of eliminating the Sixers. In fairness to the 76ers, they do still have a talented team without Simmons. Embiid is one of the league's best centers, Tobais Harris can score 20-plus points any night and Al Horford does a little bit of everything. 

That said, the Celtics absolutely should beat the shorthanded Sixers in Round 1. Boston has more shooting, a deeper roster, much better coaching and is playing better in the bubble than its longtime rival.