Wes Unseld, the workmanlike Hall of Fame center who led Washington to its only NBA championship and was named as one of the 50 best players in league history, died Tuesday after a string of health problems, most recently pneumonia. He is 74.
Unseld ‘s family revealed his death in a statement issued by the Washington Wizards, the team with which he has starred during his 13-season career.
A five-time All-Star and one of only two players to earn NBA Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in the same season along with Wilt Chamberlain, Unseld immediately turned the team then known as the Baltimore Bullets into a winning franchise after it drafted him No. 2 overall in the 1968 draft.
A decade on, when the Washington Bullets defeated the Seattle SuperSonics in a seven-game series better remembered for the announcement of coach Dick Motta, he became the MVP of the NBA Finals: “The Mentioned at 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds, Unseld surmounted bigger players and weak knees with a good work ethic and plenty of hard work in the paint. He had been a tenacious rebounder and a powerful passer.
In 1988 Unseld was inducted into the Hall of Fame, his first eligibility year.e opera is not over until the fat lady sings.
Wesley Sissel Unseld was born on 14 March 1946 in Louisville, Kentucky, where he won two Seneca High School state championships and then remained home for college, attending Louisville University.
During his four years with the Cardinals he scored 20.6 points and 18.9 rebounds, securing him the prime lottery spot right behind No. 1 pick — and eventual teammate for the Rockets — Elvin Hayes.
“I never played pretty,” Unseld said on the day he was elected. “I wasn’t flashy. My contributions were in the things most people don’t notice. They weren’t in high scoring or dunking or behind-the-back passes.”
Wes Unseld averaged 10.8 points for his career in the NBA, and 14 rebounds.
His aching knees eventually forced Unseld to stop playing in 1981, but he remained with the franchise that would ultimately retire his No. 41 jersey.
Wes Unseld initially worked in the front office in Washington, then from 1987-94 was head coach for nearly seven seasons, compiling a record of 202-345 with one playoff appearance. From 1996-03 he also had a seven-year run as general manager, when the team took another trip to the playoffs.
Pending funeral services.
“He was our family’s rock — an extremely devoted patriarch who revealed that he was with his wife, kids, friends and teammates,” said Tuesday’s statement from the family. “He was our hero and loved to play and work around the basketball game for the cities of Baltimore and Washington D.C., cities he would been proudly wearing on his chest for so many years.”
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