Statue of NBA Legend Bob Cousy '50 Unveiled in Worcester

'Houdini of the Hardwood' Honored By His Adopted Hometown

Hall of Fame point guard Bob Cousy ‘50 was honored with a statue in downtown Worcester, his adopted hometown for the past 74 years.

The statue, depicting Cousy throwing a signature behind-the-back pass, was unveiled Friday in the plaza in front of the DCU Center, in an event attended by luminaries including Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, state and city leaders, Holy Cross alumni and a host of Celtics legends and executives.

Cousy, a dynamic point guard in his day, led Holy Cross to the 1947 NCAA championship as a freshman and would go on to help the Boston Celtics to six championships. The “Houdini of the Hardwood” was a 13-time NBA All-Star and was named NBA Most Valuable Player in 1957. His number 14 was retired by the Celtics in 1963 and he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971.

In 2019, Cousy was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions to American life, both on and off the court.

Worcester became home for the New York-born Cousy in 1946, when he moved from Manhattan to attend Holy Cross. He never left.

“Worcester is my place,” Cousy said. “I love this city. Whatever I have given to it, it has given me much more.”

Cousy now has two statues in his adopted hometown. The College unveiled a seven-foot Cousy statue in front of what is now the Luth Athletic Complex in 2008.

The statue unveiled at the DCU Center was sculpted by Omri Amrany, an internationally-known artist who is best known for creating the statue of Michael Jordan that sits outside the United Center in Chicago.

Holy Cross President Philip L. Boroughs, who has regular phone calls with Cousy, said he wanted to talk not about Cousy the basketball player, but Cousy the person.

“Bob is a man of deep and sincere faith who lives what he believes,” Boroughs said.

Speakers talked about Cousy’s efforts, along with fellow Holy Cross alumnus Tommy Heinsohn, to start the NBA Players Association; his work the the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization; and his efforts to help advocate for his Black teammates during the early days of integration in the NBA.

Cousy said his time at Holy Cross taught him to use his gifts to help anyone who needs it.

“In my own small way, I’ve tried to live up to that wise counsel,” Cousy said.

A parade of Celtics and political figures honored Cousy at the unveiling. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, herself a point guard who played pro basketball, told of how she wore the number 14 in honor of Cousy.

Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. summed up the feelings of many, saying Cousy was a true Worcester legend.

“Bob, you may not have been born here, but you belong here,” Augustus said. “You adopted the city of Worcester and we adopted you right back.”