Wes Unseld, legendary center for Baltimore Bullets, dies at 74

Tanya Simon
June 2, 2020

A five-time All-Star and, along with Wilt Chamberlain, one of only two players to win NBA Rookie of the Year and MVP honours in the same season, Unseld instantly made the team then known as the Baltimore Bullets into a victor after he was taken with the No. 2 overall pick - behind future teammate Elvin Hayes - in the 1968 draft.

A five-time All-Star selection, Unseld spent his entire 13-year career with the same team and appeared in a franchise-record 984 games, averaging 10.8 points, 14.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists over his career. In 1977-78, they defeated the Seattle SuperSonics for the National Basketball Association title and Unseld, 32, was named MVP of the championship series.

Unseld was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1988. In 1996, he was named to the National Basketball Association 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.

Unseld is survived by his wife, Connie, daughter, Kimberly, and son, Wes Unseld Jr., who is now an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets. Unseld eventually won a championship and a Finals MVP award in 1978. He had both knees replaced in October of that year and afterward appeared at games only occasionally.

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Unseld's 14.9 rebounds per game for his playoff career rank behind only Russell and Chamberlain.

"Wes was truly a gentle giant", said Phil Chenier, who played nine seasons with Unseld. The Bullets moved to Washington, D.C. and became the Capital Bullets for the 1973-74 season; then they became the Washington Bullets for the 1974-75 season and later the Washington Wizards. Love's dad, Stan, played with the prolific rebounder on the Bullets. He won 202 games, the second-most in franchise history. His total of 13,769 boards (14.0 rpg) now tops the franchise career list, and his 3,822 assists also is a Bullets record. In 1988, he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Unseld initially worked in Washington's front office, then was head coach for almost seven seasons from 1987-94, compiling a 202-345 record with one playoff appearance. He initially worked in Washington's front office, then was head coach for almost seven seasons from 1987-94, compiling a 202-345 record with one playoff appearance. At the end of the 1993-94 season, he stepped down from his role, but remained an important figure to the Bullets/Wizards franchise for the rest of his life. He resigned from that position after six years and took over as general manager in 1996.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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