Basketball

Hall of Famer, former NBA MVP Unseld dies at 74

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ByReuters
02/06/2020 at 22:20 | Updated 02/06/2020 at 22:22

NBA Hall of Famer Wes Unseld died Tuesday morning, his family and the Washington Wizards announced in a joint statement.

He was 74.

The family said that Unseld passed away peacefully following lengthy health
issues, most recently with pneumonia.

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"He was the rock of our family -- an extremely devoted patriarch who reveled
in being with his wife, children, friends and teammates," the family 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 for the Baltimore/Capital/Washington franchise for 13 seasons
(1968-81), including being named the NBA Finals MVP in 1978, when he led the
then-Bullets to their only NBA title.

"On behalf of the Wizards organization and the entire (Monumental Sports &
Entertainment) Family, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies and
condolences to the Unseld family, including his wife Connie, daughter
Kimberly, son Wes Jr. and his two grandchildren as well as his large number of
extended family and friends," chairman and CEO of MS&E Ted Leonsis said in
a statement.

"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."

Unseld was named both the NBA Rookie of the Year and the NBA MVP in 1968-69,
joining Wilt Chamberlain as one of only two players ever to accomplish the
feat. He averaged 13.8 points and a career-best 18.2 rebounds while playing
all 82 games that season. A year later, he averaged a career-best 16.2 points
to go along with 16.7 rebounds while again playing 82 games.

"Wes Unseld was one of the most consequential players of his era," NBA
commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "An NBA MVP and Naismith
Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, Wes elevated the game by mastering the
fundamentals. His competitive drive and selfless approach made him a beloved
teammate, a respected opponent and a cornerstone of the Washington Wizards
franchise, with whom he won an NBA championship.

"Wes also set the model of class, integrity and professionalism for the entire
NBA family during stints as a player, coach and team executive with Washington
and through his dedication to expanding educational opportunities for
children."

A five-time All-Star, Unseld averaged 10.8 points and 14.0 rebounds in 984
career games after being selected by Baltimore with the second overall pick of
the 1968 NBA Draft.

He later turned his attention to coaching, guiding the then-Bullets to a
202-345 record from 1987-1994.

Unseld was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1988.

"Those of us who were fortunate enough to spend time with Wes knew him as a
generous and thoughtful man whose strong will was matched only by his passion
and drive for uplifting others," Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said.
"His physical prowess, undeniable talent and on-court demeanor may have struck
fear in opponents throughout the NBA but he will be remembered best as a
mentor, leader and friend."

Unseld's son, Wes Unseld, Jr., is an assistant coach for the Denver Nuggets.

--Field Level Media

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