CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story the word "distressing" was used in the headline where the word "disrespectful" should have been used.
NBA legend Jerry West does not appreciate the assertion by former NBA player and ESPN analyst J.J. Redick that six-time NBA champion Bob Cousy played against "plumbers and firemen."
Redick made the comments in April when he and "First Take" panelist Chris "Mad Dog" Russo were discussing Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul.
‘Let’s celebrate Bob Cousy in his era, but you cannot compare pre-1980 to the modern NBA," Redick said.
"He was being guarded by plumbers and firemen," Redick continued as Russo argued that Cousy "changed the game."
Now, West is firing back, calling Redick’s comments "disrespectful."
"Obviously the game is completely different, the athletes are completely different," West said on Sirius XM NBA Radio. "And I know J.J. just a little bit. He’s a very smart kid and everything, but tell me what his career looked like? What did he do that determined games? He averaged 12 points a game in the league. Somewhere along the way, numbers count.
"The only reason I’m talking about him is because he was not an elite player, but he was a very good player. But he had a place on a team because of his ability to shoot the ball."
West’s NBA career coincided with Cousy’s for a few years, with West playing for 14 years from 1960 to 1974. Cousy played from 1950 to 1963 before retiring for six years. He made a comeback during the 1969-1970 season, appearing in seven games for the Cincinnati Royals. Cousy won six championships as a member of the Boston Celtics and was named first-team All-NBA 10 times.
"My era, I was an athlete way before my team," West continued. "I had a huge vertical and probably no one in the league was much faster than me. And certainly the competitive part of it, I would put myself among any player that played the game today also. Winning is all that matters. That’s what drove me. And I suddenly got better every year. We didn’t have the facilities to get better. We had to work in the summers to support our families.
"J.J. should be very thankful that he’s made as much money as he’s made. And Bob Cousy, who I played against for a couple of years … I just think it's very disrespectful."
Redick played 15 years in the NBA for six teams and averaged 12.8 points per game.