Celtics

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.”
 

The Celtics are going to beat teams however they want

The Celtics are going to beat teams however they want

If you were to tell me before Tuesday night that the Celtics would get barely anything out of Kyrie Irving and still smoke the 76ers, I'd have been like, "well, yeah."

Then I'd have asked you if you watched the playoffs last season, when they beat the 76ers in five games without Kyrie Irving. 

Then I'd have pointed out that they could have smoked the 76ers even if a couple of their other stars didn't have big offensive nights. I probably would have said the Celtics could get seven points from Kyrie, nine from Al Horford and 10 from Gordon Hayward and still win by 18. I would have called it exactly because I'm a brilliant man. 

I would say they'd do it because one of their other stars would go off and at least a couple guys off the bench would have big nights. And because they'd probably still keep the 76ers under 100 points, as they did in three of four regular-season meetings last season. 

MORE CELTICS OPENING NIGHT COVERAGE

Tuesday's season opener illustrated a lot of things: that the C's and 76ers are rivals the same way the last two people at the bar are in love, that Jaylen Brown is the most photogenic dunker in the league and that Ben Simmons is still allergic to shooting. 

Yet the biggest and most important thing is that the Celtics are indeed deep enough to have different players carry them at different times -- even as players go quiet for a game or two at a time -- and still win games. They'll do it to the mediocre teams in the East, and they'll probably do it to the better teams in the West. Only when they presumably meet the Warriors in the NBA Finals -- and a lot can happen between now and then -- will they actually live and die by all of their players showing out. 

We can talk about that in June, though. For now, let's talk about how Jayson Tatum's 23-point, nine-rebound night probably wasn't an anomaly, and how games like that will afford the Celtics the luxury of bringing along Hayward at whichever pace they'd like. 

Or we can talk about how even with Irving having a dreadful shooting night (8-for-14; 1-for-8 on threes), everyone knows better than to worry about it. Even the most cynical of media figures couldn't fear it being a common occurrence, with it far more likely that Irving will do his normal routine of scoring early, getting everyone involved after and gong for the jugular if needed in the second half. 

Brown made a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2; Tuesday he had a modest performance that was punctuated by a dunk through (?) Joel Embiid. He'll have his nights. So will Al Horford. And the now RFA-to-be Terry Rozier, who had 11 off the bench, as well as Marcus Morris (16 points). 

The list goes on, and with the Celtics depth brings lineup options beyond the obvious starting five of Iriving-Brown-Hayward-Tatum-Horford. Brad Stevens doesn't need the best players in a given matchup to exploit the opposition, but now he has them. 

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Highlights: Tatum leads Celtics past 76ers in season opener

Highlights: Tatum leads Celtics past 76ers in season opener

Highlights from the Celtics 105-87 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in their first game of the 2018-19 NBA season.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE