Wes Unseld: Hall of Fame center dies aged 74

By Tom Webber 2 June 2020 6
Wes Unseld: Hall of Fame center dies aged 74

Hall of Fame center Wes Unseld, who spent his entire NBA career with the Bullets franchise, has died at the age of 74. 

The Washington Wizards released a statement from Unseld's family on Tuesday that said he passed away following lengthy health battles, most recently with pneumonia. 

"He was the rock of our family – an extremely devoted patriarch who revelled in being with his wife, children, friends and team-mates," the statement said. 

"He was our hero and loved playing and working around the game of basketball for the cities of Baltimore and Washington D.C., cities he proudly wore on his chest for so many years."

Unseld played collegiately at Louisville before the Baltimore Bullets selected him with the second overall pick in the 1968 NBA Draft. 

He was named the NBA Rookie of the Year and NBA MVP for the 1968-69 season, joining Wilt Chamberlain (1959-60) as the only players to accomplish the feat. 

Unseld earned five All-Star selections in his first seven seasons in the league before being named NBA Finals MVP after leading Washington to their only championship in 1977-78. 

He ended his playing career following the 1980-81 season and moved into the front office in Washington before eventually taking over as head coach during the 1987-88 season. 

Unseld went just 202-345 with one playoff appearance as Washington's coach before resigning after the 1993-94 season. He was named general manager of the Bullets in 1996 and stayed in that position through the 2002-03 season. 

Unseld is the franchise leader in games played (984) and rebounds (13,769), and ranks second in assists (3,822) and fifth in points (10,624). His tally of rebounds is the 12th most in NBA history. 

He was selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988 and the National College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. 

"We all admired Wes as the pillar of this franchise for so long, but it was his work off the court that will truly leave an impactful legacy and live on through the many people he touched and influenced throughout his life of basketball and beyond," Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said. 

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Tom Webber

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