• Two-time NBA champion
• NBA MVP (1973)
• Chosen to 50 Greatest Players in NBA History team
• No. 18 jersey retired by Celtics
• Seven-time NBA All-Star
• NBA’s all-time leader in defensive rebounds per game (9.8)
• Chosen with the No. 4 overall pick in the 1970 NBA Draft.
The hard work, perseverance and tenacity displayed by Dave Cowens from 1970 through 1980 made him one of the greatest Celtics of all-time.
At 6-8, 230 pounds, Cowens had a body frame for the forward position. But his toughness, hustle and extraordinary jumping ability enabled him to to go head-to-head with taller, more fluid middle men like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Willis Reed.
The Celtics picked Cowens in the 1970 NBA draft with their first pick, 4th overall. Red Auerbach, who at the time was General Manager, thought Cowens would help turnaround a franchise that just had one of its worst seasons going 34-48 in 1969-70, the year after the legendary center Bill Russell retired. Cowens made an immediate impact and the team improved to 44-38. The redheaded lefty was named Co-Rookie of the Year that season.
Cowens won the MVP award in 1973 and captured his first NBA title in 1974 when he went against Abdul-Jabbar and the Milwaukee Bucks. He outplayed Abdul-Jabbar to lead the Celtics to its 12th NBA championship. He scored 28 points and 14 rebounds and help contain Abdul-Jabbar, holding him scoreless for 18 minutes in that decisive seventh game of the NBA Finals.
Cowens was, and still is, the best defensive rebounder the game has ever seen with an average of 9.8 per game during his eight seasons in which that statistic was recorded.
In addition to being one of the greatest rebounders ever to play the game, Cowens’ scoring average never dipped below 14.2 PPG with the Celtics. His high mark came in 1972-73, when he averaged 20.5 PPG.