Former NBA player JJ Redick took aim at NBA legends like Bob Cousy back in April 2022 when he said that Cousy’s opponents were, ‘plumbers and firemen.’ Many took offense to that quote, including Cousy himself. For the first time, we’re also getting to hear what The Logo and LA Clippers consultant himself in Jerry West thinks about the comments.
In an episode of ESPN’s First Take, Redick and Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo were going head-to-head debating different eras of basketball. When it was mentioned that Cousy once had 29 assists in a single game, JJ Redick responded with, ‘Well, he was being guarded by plumbers and firemen.’
“[Bob Cousy] had 29 assists in an NBA game.” – Chris Russo
“Well, he was being guarded by plumbers and firemen” – JJ Redick
Sir. 😲😂 pic.twitter.com/8qmeARNeOj
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) April 20, 2022
Jerry West recently joined Sirius XM Radio with Justin Termine and Eddie Johnson, where he was asked about the comments made by Redick.
“Well, obviously the game is completely different.” West said. “Athletes are completely different. And I know JJ just a little bit. he’s a very smart kid and everything.
“But tell me what his career looked like. What did he do to determine games? He averaged what? He averaged 12 points a game in the league? Somewhere along the way, numbers count.”
Numbers do count. That’s why West is the league’s logo. The Hall-of-Famer averaged 27 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 6.7 assists in his 14 year NBA career. He was an All-Star all 14 seasons, and won the 1972 NBA Championship.
As West noted, JJ Redick averaged 12.8 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in his 15-year career. Unlike West, he never reached an NBA All-Star team and never won an NBA Championship. He did, however, finish 16th on the NBA’s All-Time 3-pointers made list with 1,950 of triples.
“At that point in time, players aren’t what they used to be,” Jerry West added. “JJ certainly wasn’t gonna guard the elite players, and so you can nitpick anyone. The only reason I’m talking about him is because he was not an elite player, but was he a very good player. But he had a place on a team because of his ability to shoot the ball.”
Over the NBA’s 75 years of existence, we’ve seen players become more skilled and more athletic. Watching highlights from the 1960’s and 70’s almost makes people laugh when looking at the talent level and athleticism that’s displayed in today’s game. That’s all part of the advancement and development of the league, says West.
“Those players at that era, and again, that’s when I started to see the difference in athleticism,” the Clippers’ consultant continued. “My era, I was an athlete way before my time. I had a huge vertical, probably no one in the league was much faster than me, and certainly the competitive part of it, I would put myself among any player that played the game. Today also. Winning is all that mattered. That’s what drove me. And I steadily got better every year. We didn’t have the facilities to get better. We had to work in the summers to support our families. JJ should be very thankful that he’s made as much money as he’s made. And Bob Cousy, who I’ve played against a couple of years, not very long, I just think it’s very disrespectful.”
“What his career looked like? What did he do to determine games? He averaged what? He averaged 12 points a game in the league?”
Jerry West on JJ Redick saying Bob Cousy played against ‘plumbers and firemen.’
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) July 23, 2022
Bob Cousy initiallyJ responded when he heard the comments J Redick made about him.
“People with less talent will always try to make a name for themselves,” Cousy said. “I guess [Wilt Chamberlain] must have fought fires as well.”
In a world where pretty much everything is debatable, this is probably something that shouldn’t be. Taking shots at prior generations of basketball because the skill level and athleticism wasn’t nearly as high as it is today isn’t something that should be done. Without those eras of basketball, we don’t get here, gradually improving and developing the league’s best players.
Additionally, the science and management of players has improved significantly as well. Athletes are in peak physical condition now with everything in their body being monitored because of the good and bad experiences that past players have gone through.
Redick, Cousy, and West can have a free for all debating this, but it really shouldn’t even be something that was said.