Wes Unseld, one of the greatest players in NBA history and a major star in the early days of the league, has passed away. He was just 74 years old.
The 6-foot-7 Unseld played in the NBA from 1968-1981, spending his entire career with the Washington Bullets franchise. He was the No. 2 overall pick out of Louisville in 1968, when the team was still located in Baltimore.
Just a year later, he captured the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award, beating out legends like Willis Reed, Billy Cunningham, Bill Russell, and Elgin Baylor. That season, Unseld averaged 13.8 points and 18.2 rebounds per game for the Bullets, dominating on the inside for the team.
In 1978, he’d lead Washington to the NBA Title, the only league championship in franchise history. Wes Unseld was the NBA Finals MVP that season, outlasting the Seattle SuperSonics in a classic seven game series. The Washington Wizards just released a statement from his family confirming the sad news.
Statement from the family of Wes Unseld.
Rest easy, Wes ♥️ pic.twitter.com/NwEtuofgG9
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) June 2, 2020
“It is with profound sadness that we share that our adored husband, father, and grandfather Wes Unseld passed away peacefully this morning surrounded by family following lengthy health battles, most recently with pneumonia,” the Unseld family wrote. “He was the rock of our family – an extremely devoted patriarch who reveled in being with his wife, children, friends and teammates.”
“He was out 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 would retire in 1981, reaching five All-Star Games to go along with his regular season and NBA Finals MVP awards. He spent 1988-94 as the Bullets’ head coach, and became the general manager in 1996.
Our thoughts go out to Unseld’s family, and all of those in the Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Louisville communities that he touched during his life.