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In yet another epic Sweet 16 contest, two big men from different eras collide for a rough-and-tumble showdown. Tommy Heinsohn, one of the revolutionary Celtics, meets Dave Cowens, one of the best centers in franchise history.
Heinsohn made an immediate impact in Boston his rookie season (1956-57), when he went to the All-Star Game, won the Rookie of the Year award and helped the Celtics win the NBA title. He went on to win an astonishing eight championships in nine years (as part of the Russell era), making six All-Star appearances in the process.
Cowens, who entered the league in 1970, also delivered for the Celtics from the get-go. His rookie campaign included staggering averages of 17 points and 15 rebounds per contest, earning him a shared Rookie of the Year award (with Portland Trailblazer Geoff Petric).
In 1973, Cowens won the NBA MVP after logging 20.5 points and 16.2 rebounds a game, which helped Boston to a league-leading 68-14 record. The big man was selected to seven All-Star teams during his career and earned a multitude of defensive honors. He played a crucial role in the Celtics' 1974 and 1976 championships and led the squad in all five major statistical categories in 1977-78.
Heinsohn and Cowens were both known for their gritty, tenacious styles of play. Their career numbers reflect such reputations. Tommy finished with an average of 18.6 points and 8.8 rebounds, while Dave posted absurd averages of 17.6 points and 13.6 boards.
These two would not only play a brand of physical, intense basketball in a one-on-one match, but they would also bring their unusual personalities to the court.
Heinsohn, now the color commentator for Comcast Sports Net New England, maintains notoriety for his heated fan-tics in the broadcasting chair, never hesitating to yell at referees for bad calls. Cowens, meanwhile, has a reputation for eccentric behavior, like the time he slept on a park bench in Boston Common after winning the 1974 championship.
“Tommy Gun” would probably win the word of the words, spouting out unnecessary obscenities about his red-haired counterpart. But Cowens would triumph, using his two-inch advantage and all-around skills to move on to the second round.
Cowens 21 - Heinsohn 13
Technical Fouls: 2