Saturday, July 28, 2007

Quick Draft Question #3: Driving Schools and Ice Capades

This is not technically a draft related question but it leads to draft day discussion:

What goes into making a perennial champion?

If you said, "guts, pride and determination," or something like that, I'm sorry but you get a Frowny Face and an Incomplete for your unimaginitive answer. The historical facts prove that a combination of driving schools and the Ice Capades make the most successful path to a dynasty.

Yesterday's QDQ about Yi and draftee holdouts got me doing a little research (it's the only kind of research I do!). It turns out there are other guys who really didn't want to go to the team that drafted them besides Yi, Steve Francis, Danny Ferry, and Keith Van Horn. Kiki Vandeweghe did it.

So did Bob Cousy! Yes it's true.

Cousy was drafted by the Tri-cities Blackhawks of Moline, Illinois, Rock Island, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa in 1950.

From Wikipedia: "It was the Tri-Cities Blackhawks which drafted Cousy, but the point guard was unenthusiastic about his new employer. Trying to establish a driving school in Worcester, Massachusetts, he did not want to move into a left field consisting of three small towns of Moline, Rock Island and Davenport. As compensation of having to give up his driving school, Cousy demanded a salary of $10,000 from Blackhawks owner Bob Kerner. When Kerner only offered him $6,000, Cousy refused to report."

Here's what happened next- Wikipedia: "(Cousy) was then picked up by the Chicago Stags, but when they folded, league Commissioner Maurice Podoloff declared three Stags available for a dispersal draft, namely Stags scoring champion Max Zaslofsky, Andy Phillips and Cousy. Walter A. Brown, owner of the Boston Celtics, was one of the three club bosses invited, and later made clear that he was hoping for Zaslofsky, would have tolerated Phillips, and LOATHED Cousy. When the Celtics drew Cousy, Brown confessed: "When I drew Cousy, I could have fallen to the floor."

Brown supposedly did almost fall out of his chair- he was so disgusted at drawing Cousy, a guy Red had passed on in that previous draft saying, "I'm supposed to win, not go after local yokels."

Then there was the 1956 draft: Auerbach and Walter Brown wanted Bill Russell, but Boston was picking too late to get him. Red traded up to the second spot by sending Ed McCauley and Cliff Hagen to the Hawks (the former Blackhawks!). Rochester had the first pick and didn't like the amount of money ($25,000) that Russell was asking for. The Ice Capades were a big deal back then and were owned by none other than Walter Brown. Brown called up Rochester and offered them a few weeks of the Ice Capades if they passed on Russell. The deal was done.

(As a side note 1956 was the single greatest draft by any team in NBA history which netted the Celtics Bill Russell, Tommy Heinsohn and KC Jones- three hall of famers and also three guys who went on to coach NBA champions.)

So there you have it. I don't remember what the original QDQ was, but I do know that a driving school and the Ice Capades are responsible for most of the Boston Celtic championships.

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