By Nathan Mayberg
Monticello August 10, 2004 Bob Cousy, one of the greatest point guards of all time, and an NBA Hall-of-Famer, visited Kutshers Country Club in Monticello last Tuesday to play in the annual Maurice Stokes/Wilt Chamberlain Celebrity Golf Tournament to support retired NBA players.
Cousy won eight straight assist titles from 1953-1960. He was the captain of six Boston Celtics NBA championship teams.
Also joining him was NBA Hall-of-Famer Dolph Schayes, who led the NBA in rebounding in 1951. Schayes also led the league in free throw percentage three times.
Other celebrities included actor/comedian Freddy Roman, actor Tony Darrow from the HBO television show The Sopranos, former NFL player and New York Jets Coach Rich Kotite, as well as former NBA players Randy Smith, Ralph Kaplowitz and Dan Roundfield.
The benefit began in 1959 to help Maurice Stokes, an NBA great, who had suffered brain damage after hitting his head during a game in 1958. He lost his heroic battle with encephalitis in 1970.
Although Stokes only played three years, his accomplishments were so extraordinary that he will be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame this year.
Stokes was a top scorer, rebounder and passer. In the 1956-1957 season, he led the league in rebounding, and was third in assists. He averaged over 16 points and 17 rebounds a game during his short career.
For 40 years, sports legends have played and appeared at the Maurice Stokes benefit basketball games held at Kutshers Sports Academy. Among those sports legends: Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Roy Campanella, Oscar Robertson, Bob Pettit, Red Auerbach, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin, Anthony Mason, Mark Jackson, Cousy, Schayes, Walt Frazier and Willis Reed.
Cousy, who was named one of the top 100 athletes of the 20th century by ESPN, said his life in the Catskills began long ago.
He grew up penniless on Manhattans East Side, and went on to become a three-time All-American at Holy Cross. But that didnt pay the bills, so he worked four years at the Tamarack Hotel, outside of Ellenville, to pay his way through college.
Cousy said the hotel had a powerhouse basketball team that played the other major hotels in Sullivan County. Future NBA Hall-of-Famers George Mikan and Bill Sharman, were among the legends who played ball against him in the Catskills.
He said he worked his tail off as a waiter. He earned so much money, that when he returned home with the money on his mothers table, she called the police, Cousy said jokingly. It was the most money his immigrant parents had ever seen. His father even worked two jobs at the time.
Cousy currently works part-time on Celtics TV broadcasts. On the difference in the game now and then, Cousy cited the lack of a transition game.
Too many coaches today call too many plays, and dont allow the teams to use the transition offense, he said.
While todays players may be bigger and stronger, Cousy believes his generations players could hold their own in terms of dribbling, passing and how to play the game skills.
He believes the Celtics feat of capturing 11 titles in 13 years during the 1950s and 1960s will never be repeated again. He said players today dont fight nowhere near as hard to stay on top.
They dont want it as bad for as long a time, Cousy said. Money does affect sustained motivation.
He noted that even Tiger Woods has been affected.
All of the distractions are pulling on him for a game that takes so much focus, Cousy said.
So what was the key to the Celtics success? Red Auerbach, said Cousy.
He put it all together, the former Celtic guard explained. He was the coach, the architect, the general manager, the marketing director, the trainer
he did everything.
The tournament was won by a one stroke. The victorious team, shooting a 55, consisted of Kotite, Kutshers Golf Club professional Dean LaFlamme, Michael Kaufman, Rick Morgan and Anthony Rein.
We just played great, everybody contributed, LaFlamme said.
Roundfield, who played during the 1970s and 1980s, took some time after the golf tournament to talk a little basketball.
As good as [Larry] Bird was, [Kevin] McHale was tougher, Roundfield said.
Roundfield added that McHale, another Hall-of-Famer, dazzled him with his moves around the basket. Hall-of-Famer George Gervin was also one of the toughest opponents he ever faced, Roundfield said.
Mark Kutsher, operator of Kutshers Country Club, said The money quietly goes to the people who helped make the NBA what it is today.
He called Stokes a sensational player.
It is very gratifying that this year, he is truly being recognized, Kutsher said. This year, he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.