In his retirement, JJ Redick has become one of the most interesting and fun media personalities to listen to, as his ESPN appearances always give us some fresh and controversial topics to discuss. The latest is centered around Bob Cousy, with Redick trying to defend the legacy of his friend and former teammate Chris Paul.
Impossible to compare
When talking about some of the first superstars the NBA has ever seen -- George Mikan, Bob Cousy, Bob Pettit, Bill Russell, or Wilt Chamberlain -- we often like to discredit their legacies by mocking them for playing "plumbers." Obviously, it's a running joke because the NBA wasn't that luxurious and popular, having fewer teams and players, with most of them working jobs on the side to make a living.
That doesn't by any means make those stars any less great, but the fact of the matter is that the NBA and the game of basketball were drastically different, making it impossible to compare players to the ones that came up in the eras ahead, especially in today's basketball.
Redick was on ESPN the other day, debating with Chris "Mad Dog" Russo about Chris Paul's legacy. Russo was pretty critical of CP3, denying that he is a transcendent player, bringing up numerous mishaps and failures from his career.
As Redick is a good friend of Chris and a former teammate, he decided to step into his defense:
"He's(Chris Paul) an all-time great point guard. If he wins a championship, he's in the conversation for the greatest point guard ever."
JJ Redick, ESPN
Russo, in hilarious fashion with a straight face, blasted out that Chris Paul is not better even than Bob Cousy, to which Redick decided to go on a full-on rant:
"Bob Cousy couldn't dribble with his left hand. Bob Cousy won championships when there were eight teams in the NBA, and you had to win two playoff series. Let's celebrate Bob Cousy in his era, but you can't compare pre-1980 with the modern NBA. You cannot...Did Bob Cousy ever shoot over 40% in his career? Not once. He was being guarded by plumbers and firemen."
JJ Redick, ESPN
Redick maybe went a tad overboard, but the point is right there. For his era, Bob Cousy is a legend. I mean, 13x All-Star appearances, 6 championships, and numerous other accolades are impressive. Still, the fact of the matter is that it would be hard to imagine a skinny 6'1'' point guard that dribbled with one hand and shot under 40% for his career to be even able to match up in today's NBA.
The game and players have evolved, which is only natural, making the difference in skill and talent between players from the 50s and today's non-comparable. Redick had a great way of making that point and setting Russo straight for his ridiculous take.