Periodically, a player comes along who really epitomizes heart and soul. Right now, you could do worse than New Orleans guard Jose Alvarado, who has shown immense passion and hustle.
Larry Bird was famous for this too, and the effort that Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant put it would be difficult to surpass. And you can’t forget about 5-3 Muggsy Bogues, who competed in the NBA for 14 years and terrified opponents for most of that time.
Guys who hustle and play really hard are in a special category. And one guy who probably gets overlooked a lot today is former Boston Celtic Dave Cowens.
A native of Kentucky who grew up in Newport, Cowens somehow got away from both Kentucky and Louisville and went to Florida State. Boston selected him with the #4 pick in the 1970 draft, partly on the recommendation of Bill Russell, and he was good from the beginning, averaging 17 points and 15 boards as a rookie.
Cowens played with immense passion and hustled like few players ever have. In this particular play, Cowens dives for a loose ball in the 1974 NBA Finals against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Milwaukee Bucks.
You can imagine the effect this must have had on his teammates, not to mention fans. Seeing a big guy dive like that? You have to be pumped up.