The NBA has come a long way since the 1950s — and even the 1960s when Los Angeles Lakers legend Jerry West started his career.
In the first two decades after the NBA launched as the BAA in 1946, players earned so little they had to share basketball commitments with the duties of their daytime jobs. Last May, player-turned-basketball-analyst JJ Redick brought up the fact in ESPN’s First Take during an argument with Chris Russo over Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul’s legacy.
Russo stated that Paul “is no Bob Cousy” and, while discussing Cousy’s stats and achievements, added the Boston Celtics great had 28 assists in a home win against the then-Minneapolis Lakers. To that, Redick responded: “Well, he was being guarded by plumbers and firemen.”
Cousy himself fired back at Redick, saying that less talented people oftentimes try to attract attention by criticizing others. Former Lakers player and executive West — who currently works for the L.A. Clippers — has sided with Cousy, calling Redick’s claim “very disrespectful” on SiriusXM:
“I just think it’s very disrespectful”
— SiriusXM NBA Radio (@SiriusXMNBA) July 22, 2022
After admitting to basketball being a completely different game than 60 years ago, West added: “I Know JJ just a little bit, he’s a very smart kid and everything… Tell me what his career looked like? What did he do that determined games? He averaged 12 points a game.”
Besides having to support their families financially by working side jobs in the summer, West also pointed out that the players of his time didn’t have access to the same high-level facilities that current NBA stars train in. “JJ should be very thankful that he’s made as much money as he’s made,” West said.
Cousy was believed to have signed a rookie contract worth $9,000 per year in 1950 while a decade later, he reportedly penned a $26,000 deal for 1959-60.
Redick is believed to have earned more than $116 million during his 15-year career in the NBA.
Curry thinks Warriors would beat early 2000s Lakers in hypothetical series
In another claim that pitted NBA history against current times, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry recently said his Splash Brothers teams could win in a hypothetical matchup with the early 2000s Lakers.
“I don’t know who would guard Shaq but I don’t know who would guard me and Klay either,” Curry said. “We rockin’ with that. And three is better than two.”
However, Curry highlighted the triviality of conversations over such hypotheticals.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!