Wes Unseld

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Wes Unseld
Wes Unseld 1975.jpeg
Unseld in 1975
Personal information
Born(1946-03-14)March 14, 1946
Louisville, Kentucky
DiedJune 2, 2020(2020-06-02) (aged 74)
NationalityAmerican
Listed height6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Listed weight245 lb (111 kg)
Career information
High schoolSeneca (Louisville, Kentucky)
CollegeLouisville (1965–1968)
NBA draft1968 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2nd overall
Selected by the Baltimore Bullets
Playing career1968–1981
PositionCenter
Number41
Coaching career1988–1994
Career history
As player:
19681981Baltimore / Capital / Washington Bullets
As coach:
19881994Washington Bullets
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA playing statistics
Points10,624 (10.8 ppg)
Rebounds13,769 (14.0 rpg)
Assists3,822 (3.9 apg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com
Career coaching record
NBA202–345 (.369)
Basketball Hall of Fame as player
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2006

Westley Sissel Unseld (March 14, 1946 – June 2, 2020) was an American professional basketball player, coach and executive. He spent his entire National Basketball Association (NBA) career with the Baltimore/Capital/Washington Bullets. Unseld played college basketball for the Louisville Cardinals and was selected with the second overall pick by the Bullets in the 1968 NBA draft. He was named the NBA Most Valuable Player during his rookie season and joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only two players in NBA history to accomplish the feat. Unseld won an NBA championship with the Bullets in 1978. After retiring from playing in 1981, he worked with the Bullets/Wizards as a vice president, head coach and general manager.

Unseld was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988 and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.[1][2]

Early life and college career[edit]

Unseld as a member of the Louisville Cardinals men's basketball team.

Unseld starred for the Seneca High School team that won Kentucky state championships in 1963 and 1964. He was recruited by over 100 colleges, including the University of Kentucky. Unseld became the first African-American athlete to be offered an athletic scholarship to the school when Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball coach Adolph Rupp attempted to recruit him to the team. Integration leaders in Louisville tried to persuade Unseld to attend the University of Kentucky and stated that "it would be good for Kentucky and the Southeastern Conference."[3] However, he chose to enroll at the University of Louisville in 1965 where he played center for the school's freshman team and averaged 35.8 points and 23.6 rebounds over 14 games. Unseld lettered for Louisville as a sophomore (1965–66), junior (1966–67), and senior (1967–68), scored 1,686 points (20.6 average) and grabbed 1,551 rebounds (18.9 average) over 82 games.[4] He led the Missouri Valley Conference in rebounding all three years.[5][6]

Unseld earned NCAA All-American honors in 1967 and 1968 and led Louisville to a 60–22 record during his collegiate career, making trips to the NIT tournament in 1966 and NCAA tournament in 1967 and 1968. He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.[7]

Professional career[edit]

Unseld was selected as the second overall pick by the Baltimore Bullets in the 1968 NBA draft.[8] He was also selected by his hometown Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association (ABA) in the 1968 ABA draft.[9] Unseld was offered contracts by both teams but opted to sign with the Bullets of the more successful NBA despite them allegedly offering less money.[9] After signing Unseld, Bullets owner Earl Foreman proclaimed that "this contract represents the most attractive and rewarding contract that has or will be signed by any player in the NBA this year."[9]

In his first career game, Unseld recorded 8 points and 22 rebounds in a 124–116 Baltimore win over the Detroit Pistons.[10] On October 19, Unseld recorded his first double-double of his career after recording 13 points and 20 rebounds in a 124–121 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.[11] On November 22, Unseld recorded 20 points and a career-high 29 rebounds in a 121–110 loss to the 76ers.[12]

As a rookie, Unseld helped lead the Bullets (which had finished in last place in the Eastern division the previous year) to a 57–25 record and a division title. Unseld averaged 18.2 rebounds per game that year, and joined fellow future Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain to become the second player ever to win the Rookie of the Year Award and the Most Valuable Player Award in the same year.[7] Unseld was also named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team, and also claimed the Sporting News MVP that year.[13]

Unseld was one of the best defensive players of his era, and in 1975, he led the NBA in rebounding. The following season, he led the NBA in field goal percentage with a .561 percentage.[8]

Unseld took the Bullets franchise to four NBA Finals, and won the championship in 1978 over the Seattle SuperSonics, in which he was named the Finals MVP. He ended his playing career following the 1980–81 season, and his No. 41 jersey was retired by the Bullets shortly thereafter.[14]

Player profile[edit]

Famed for his rebounding, bone-jarring picks and ability to ignite a fast break with his crisp, accurate outlet passes, Unseld made up for his relative lack of size as a center with brute strength and sheer determination. In 984 NBA games – all with the Bullets – Unseld averaged a double-double in points and rebounds, with averages of 10.8 points and 14.0 rebounds per game. He also averaged 3.9 assists, excellent for a center, in the 36 minutes he played per game. Unseld was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988, and in 1996, he was named as one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players of all time.[15]

Executive and coaching career[edit]

After Unseld's retirement in 1981, he moved into a front office position with the Bullets, where he served as vice president for six years before being named head coach in 1988.[16] He resigned following the 1994 season with a 202–345 record (.369).[17][18] Unseld became the Bullets' general manager in 1996 (they were renamed to the Wizards in 1997) and served in that role for seven years.[19] He guided the team to the playoffs once during his tenure as general manager.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Unseld's wife, Connie, opened Unselds School in 1979. A coed private school located in southwest Baltimore, it has a daycare program, nursery school and a kindergarten-to-eighth grade curriculum. Connie and daughter Kimberly serve as teachers at the school.[21][22] Unseld worked as an office manager and head basketball coach. He was the godfather of Cleveland Cavaliers all-star forward, Kevin Love, as Kevin's father Stan Love was a teammate of Unseld's on the Baltimore Bullets. His son, Wes Jr., became a basketball coach with the Denver Nuggets.[23]

On June 2, 2020, Unseld's family announced that he had died after suffering lengthy health battles, including most recently with pneumonia.[24][25][26]

NBA career statistics[edit]

Playing[edit]

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
 †  Won an NBA championship  *  Led the league

Source:[27]

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
NBA regular season playing statistics
1968–69 Baltimore 82 36.2 .476 .605 18.2 2.6 13.8
1969–70 Baltimore 82 39.4 .518 .638 16.7 3.5 16.2
1970–71 Baltimore 74 39.2 .501 .657 16.9 4.0 14.1
1971–72 Baltimore 76 41.7 .498 .629 17.6 3.7 13.0
1972–73 Baltimore 79 39.1 .493 .703 15.9 4.4 12.5
1973–74 Capital 56 30.8 .438 .655 9.2 2.8 1.0 .3 5.9
1974–75 Washington 73 39.8 .502 .685 14.8* 4.1 1.6 .9 9.2
1975–76 Washington 78 37.5 .561* .585 13.3 5.2 1.1 .8 9.6
1976–77 Washington 82 34.9 .490 .602 10.7 4.4 1.1 .5 7.8
1977–78 Washington 80 33.1 .523 .538 11.9 4.1 1.2 .6 7.6
1978–79 Washington 77 31.2 .577 .643 10.8 4.1 .9 .5 10.9
1979–80 Washington 82 36.3 .513 .500 .665 13.3 4.5 .8 .7 9.7
1980–81 Washington 63 32.3 .524 .500 .640 10.7 2.7 .8 .6 8.0
Career 984 36.4 .509 .500 .633 14.0 3.9 1.1 .6 10.8
All-Star 5 0 15.4 .500 .600 7.2 1.2 .4 .0 6.2
Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
NBA playoff playing statistics
1969 Baltimore 4 41.3 .526 .789 18.5 1.3 18.8
1970 Baltimore 7 41.3 .414 .789 23.6 3.4 10.4
1971 Baltimore 18 42.2 .462 .568 18.8 3.8 13.2
1972 Baltimore 6 44.3 .492 .526 12.5 4.2 12.3
1973 Baltimore 5 40.2 .417 .474 15.2 3.4 9.8
1974 Capital 7 42.4 .492 .600 12.1 3.9 .6 .1 10.1
1975 Washington 17 43.2 .546 .656 16.2 3.8 .9 1.2 10.7
1976 Washington 7 44.3 .462 .542 12.1 4.0 .9 .6 7.0
1977 Washington 9 40.9 .556 .583 11.7 4.9 .9 .7 7.4
1978 Washington 18 37.6 .530 .587 12.0 4.4 .9 .4 9.4
1979 Washington 19 38.7 .494 .609 13.3 3.4 .9 .7 10.3
1980 Washington 2 43.5 .500 .000 .667 14.0 3.5 .0 1.5 9.0
Career 119 41.1 .493 .000 .608 14.9 3.8 .8 .7 10.6

Coaching[edit]

Source:[28]

Legend
Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win–loss %
Playoffs PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win–loss %
Coaching record
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
Washington 1987–88 55 30 25 .545 2nd in Atlantic 5 2 3 .400 Lost in First Round
Washington 1988–89 82 40 42 .488 4th in Atlantic Missed playoffs
Washington 1989–90 82 31 51 .378 4th in Atlantic Missed playoffs
Washington 1990–91 82 30 52 .366 4th in Atlantic Missed playoffs
Washington 1991–92 82 25 57 .305 6th in Atlantic Missed playoffs
Washington 1992–93 82 22 60 .268 7th in Atlantic Missed playoffs
Washington 1993–94 82 24 58 .293 7th in Atlantic Missed playoffs
Career 547 202 345 .369   5 2 3 .400  

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Wes Unseld: Hall of Fame center dies aged 74". sports.yahoo.com. June 2, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  2. ^ Wells, Adam (June 2, 2020). "Hall of Famer, NBA Legend Wes Unseld Dies at Age 74". Bleacher Report. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  3. ^ "Adolph Rupp: Fact and Fiction". www.bigbluehistory.net. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  4. ^ "Wes Unseld, one of the all-time greats from Kentucky, dies at 74". Lexington Herald-Leader. June 2, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  5. ^ Marzzacco, Michael (June 2, 2020). "Wes Unseld: Laying the Foundation for Winning Basketball in DC". TheSportsDaily.com. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  6. ^ Rutherford, Mike (June 2, 2020). "Louisville legend Wes Unseld dead at age 74". CardChronicle.com. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Williams, Bethanni (June 2, 2020). "Born and raised in Louisville, Unseld was an All-American before spending his NBA career with the Washington Bullets". whas11.com. Archived from the original on June 3, 2020. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Wes Unseld". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved May 24, 2012.
  9. ^ a b c Abrams, Brett L.; Mazzone, Raphael (2013). The Bullets, the Wizards, and Washington, DC, Basketball. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 87.
  10. ^ "Detroit Pistons at Baltimore Bullets Box Score, October 16, 1968". Basketball-Reference. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  11. ^ "Philadelphia 76ers at Baltimore Bullets Box Score, October 19, 1968". Basketball-Reference. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  12. ^ "Baltimore Bullets at Philadelphia 76ers Box Score, November 22, 1968". Basketball-Reference. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  13. ^ "NBA & ABA Sporting News MVP Award Winners". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  14. ^ "Remembering Wes Unseld". National Basketball Association. June 2, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  15. ^ "Wes Unseld". NBA Encyclopedia Playoff Edition. NBA Media Ventures, LLC. Retrieved May 24, 2012.
  16. ^ "N.b.a.; Unseld Is Named Bullets' New Coach". The New York Times. January 4, 1988. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
  17. ^ "Bullets' Unseld Quits as Coach". The New York Times. April 25, 1994. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
  18. ^ Terry, Mike (April 25, 1994). "Unseld resigns after 7 seasons as Bullets coach". Washington Post. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
  19. ^ "Westley S. Unseld". University of Louisville. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  20. ^ "Unseld takes leave on 'my own terms'". ESPN. May 2, 2003. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  21. ^ "Eye on the Entrepreneur – Silver anniversary for Unseld's School". The Daily Record. Baltimore. February 27, 2004. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
  22. ^ Neale, Barrett (December 14, 2010). "Unselds Are Still Heroes, But In Scholastic Arena" (156). Press Box (Baltimore, Maryland). Archived from the original on August 4, 2018. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
  23. ^ "Meet the 2016-17 Nuggets Coaches". Denver Nuggets. September 14, 2016. Retrieved November 22, 2017.
  24. ^ "Statement from the Unseld family". NBA.com. June 2, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  25. ^ Sheinin, Dave (June 2, 2020). "Wes Unseld, Hall of Famer instrumental in Washington's only NBA title, dies at 74". Washington Post. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  26. ^ Sandomir, Richard (June 2, 2020). "Wes Unseld, Powerful Hall of Fame N.B.A. Center, Dies at 74". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  27. ^ "Wes Unseld Stats". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  28. ^ "Wes Unseld". basetball-reference.com. Retrieved June 4, 2020.

External links[edit]