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On This Date in Sports February 27, 1959: Cousy Dishin' Dimes

It is more than a passing fancy for Bob Cousy, as the Boston Celtics guard established an NBA record with 28 assists. Cousy’s 28 dimes allowed the Celtics to curb-stomp the Minneapolis Lakers 173-139 in a game that was played in Providence. Bob Cousy’s 28 assists would stand as the single-game record for 19 years and is still ranked third in NBA history. 

Bob Cousy was born to French immigrants in New York City on August 9, 1928. Cousy’s father worked as a cab driver, as Cousy learned to play stickball and basketball on the streets of New York. After excelling at Andrew Jackson High School in Queens, Cousy received a scholarship offer to attend the College of the Holy Cross. Cousy was a member of the Crusaders 1947 Nation Championship as one of six freshmen, bringing a new level of success to the small catholic school in Worcester. 

Teams could claim territorial rights when Bob Cousy became eligible for the NBA Draft. However, Red Auerbach initially passed Cousy over, drafting Charlie Strong. As a result, he was chosen by the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. Cousy balked at relocation to the small towns on the Iowa and Illinois border while trying to open a Driving School in Boston. After being unable to work out a deal with the Tri-Cities, Bob Cousy was sold to the Chicago Staggs, who would end up folding before Cousy ever played a game. This would lead him to join the Celtics after the Staggs’ dispersal draft. 

Bob Cousy proved to be a valuable playmaker for Red Auerbach as he became the first piece in the foundation of what would become the greatest dynasty in the history of the NBA. Cousy quickly became the face of the Celtics, earning the nickname "The Houdini of the Hardwood," as he was named an All-Star in his first season, averaging 15.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. Cousy was named an All-Star in each of his 13 seasons with the Celtics while leading the NBA in assists for eight straight seasons from 1953 to 1960.

Cousy was named NBA MVP in 1957 when the Celtics won their first NBA Championship. Boston would capture a second title in 1959 when Cousy shattered the single-game record for assists with 28. The record would be equaled by Guy Rodgers of the San Francisco Warriors five years later. In 1978, Kevin Porter had 29 assists in a game for the New Jersey Nets to top Cousy’s mark. The current record stands at 30 assists, set in 1990 by Scott Skiles of the Orlando Magic. 

When Bob Cousy retired in 1963, he held the NBA’s record in career dimes with 6,945. Following his final game, he received a special message from President John F. Kennedy. Cousy would later go on to coach at Boston College before returning to coach the Cincinnati Royals in the NBA. With Royals, Cousy briefly came out of retirement in 1970, serving as a player-coach, hoping to boost ticket sales for the struggling franchise.