Today in NBA History: April 7

On April 7, 1959 Boston Celtics guard Bob Cousy dished out 19 assists, tying the NBA Playoff record in a victory over the Minneapolis Lakers. This record was later broken by both Magic Johnson and John Stockton, and the two now sit atop the record book tied at 24. Cousy was the man when it came to assists back in the 50′s, leading the league from 1952-60. The 6-1 guard averaged 18.4 points and 7.5 assists in his 14-year career, and was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1971. The “Houdini of the Hardwood” played his entire career with the Celtics, pairing with Bill Russell to win six championships.

 

On April 7, 1989 the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) voted to drop the rule forbidding professional basketball players from playing in the Olympics. Since this date we have seen numerous superstars represent their countries in international competition, and each year the United States sends a team full of NBA talent. The “Dream Team” was the first to benefit from the rule change, appearing in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. The team consisted of 11 now Hall of Fame players, including Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin and David Robinson. The mass of superstars easily swept through the competition, winning all 8 matches en route to the gold medal. The average margin of victory was 43.8 points. In recent years the influx of international superstars into the NBA has resulted in more familiar faces on the opposing teams at the Olympics.

 

Also on April 7, 1989 John Stockton became the first player to record back-to-back 1,000 assist seasons. The Hall of Fame guard would go on to record five straight seasons of 1000+ dimes, a record that should go untouched for some time. Stockton reached the mark seven times in his career, but only two other players (Isiah Thomas, Kevin Porter) have surpassed it even once. The closest active player was Chris Paul with 925 assists in the 2007-08 season.

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