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The Cowens Mystique (Part I)

December 1980


Most articles of clothing placed on the body of Dave Cowens have ventured into alien territory. The classier the garment, the worse it looks. The body itself is unusually tall (6 feet, 8 1/2 inches) and muscular, its dominant feature being a pair of exceptionally long legs that make him very high waisted. But the essential problem is not physical; it is philosophical. Dave Cowens abhors pretension of any kind. Simple is good. He looks and feels best in a pair of jeans and a flannel shirt.

He is - or, to be more precise, was - basketball's answer to Eric Hoffer. His was the philosopher-longshoreman's approach to sport. His recent retirement as the Celtics' center at age 32 did more than deprive the sports world of just another superior player. Great players can always be replaced; great personalities cannot. He was that rare individual who transcended the statistics and the record books in his chosen sport. Barely six weeks into his rookie season, he had become a reference point. For a decade, coaches at every level of basketball - indeed, coaches in practically any team sport - have been searching for "Dave Cowens types," and so it shall remain.

I never identified myself as a great player, only as one who set high standards regarding his performance. I always took pride in my performance and thought that I gave a little extra something to the game.

What exactly is a "Dave Cowens type"? In strictest basketball terms, it is a big man who is so uncommonly aggressive that his teammates are actually shamed into playing harder alongside him, if only to avoid an embarrassing comparison. In broader terms, it is a man of uncluttered nineteenth-century moral values projected in Jules Verne fashion into our modern society.


FLCeltsFan said...

I loved the description of a "Dave Cowens type" He was definitely an anomaly in more ways than one.

Lex said...

I bet this was a bob ryan piece

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