A five-time All-Star and, together with Wilt Chamberlain, one of only two players to win NBA Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in the very same season


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Wes Unseld was an undersized NBA facility known much more for his bruising picks, tenacious rebounding and also perfectly placed outlet passes than any points that produced.

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He grew in his duty as a workmanlike leader.


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“I never played pretty,” Unseld claimed when chosen to the room of reputation in 1988. “I no flashy. Mine contributions to be in the points most civilization don’t notice. They no in high scoring or dunking or behind-the-back passes.”

Unseld, who started his agree career together a rookie MVP, led Washington come its just NBA championship and also was chosen among the 50 best players in organization history, died Tuesday after ~ “lengthy health and wellness battles, most recently through pneumonia,” his household said in a statement exit by the Wizards. He was 74.


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He invested his whole 13-season playing career through the Bullets-Wizards franchise, then to be its coach and general manager. The team to be based in Baltimore once he was drafted; he and his wife, Connie, opened Unselds’ institution in that city in 1978.

“Wes Unseld was one of the many consequential football player of his era,” NBA Commissioner Adam silver said. “His competitive drive and also selfless strategy made him a beloved teammate. ... Wes also collection the model of class, integrity and professionalism because that the whole NBA family during stints as a player, coach and team executive with Washington and also through his dedication to widening educational opportunities for children.”

Unseld instantly made the team then known as the Baltimore Bullets right into a winner after he to be taken with the No. 2 as whole pick — behind future teammate Elvin Hayes — in the 1968 draft.

A te later, he to be the MVP that the 1978 NBA Finals as the Bullets win the Seattle SuperSonics in a seven-game collection best recognized for Washington coach prick Motta’s proclamation: “The opera ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”

Listed at 6-foot-7 and also 245 pounds, Unseld offered power and also savvy come outplay bigger opponents. He additionally brought his pro team something that never had actually experienced — and hasn’t, really, due to the fact that he quit playing: true continual success.

As a rookie, he averaged 13.8 points and 18.2 rebounds, while the team went 57-25, a 21-win improvement over the vault season and also the franchise’s an initial winning record. Unseld (1969) and Wilt Chamberlain (1960) room the only two football player to win NBA Rookie the the Year and also MVP honors in the same season.

The Bullets do the playoffs 12 consecutive times, reaching four NBA Finals. Unseld was an All-Star in his first four seasons and also again in 1975.

“I understand that night in and also night out, the man I play against will have more physical ability,” Unseld when said, “but ns feel prefer if ns go out against a guy and play the 40 or 48 minutes a video game or whatever, toe to toe, head to head, that is going come get worn down or beat up or bored for 2 or 3 minutes. That will certainly be enough to make certain he doesn’t victory the game for his team.”

He to be remembered Tuesday as “the gentlest that giants” by previous Bullets player Rex Chapman, that was coached by Unseld in the 1990s, and as “a Legend and a Leader” through Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, who father, Stan, was a teammate of Unseld’s ~ above the Bullets in the 1970s. Love’s center name is Wesley in Unseld’s honor.

“Those of united state who to be fortunate sufficient to invest time with Wes knew him together a generous and also thoughtful guy whose solid will was matched just by his passion and drive for uplifting others,” Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said. “His physical prowess, undeniable talent and also on-court demeanor may have actually struck fear in adversaries throughout the NBA, but he will be remembered ideal as a mentor, leader and also friend.”

Wesley Sissel Unseld was born march 14, 1946, in Louisville, Kentucky. That won two state championships in high school, then average 20.6 points and also 18.9 rebounds over 4 years in ~ the university of Louisville.

In the NBA, Unseld average 10.8 points and also 14 rebounds for his career and also is still Washington’s career leader in complete boards. He to be No. 1 in assists, too, until John wall overtook the in 2016.

“His scowl might be intimidating however really he was a kind, thoughtful and protective comrade,” claimed Phil Chenier, a teammate the Unseld’s because that Washington’s 1978 title. “Wes is the epitome of a great teammate, team leader and also friend.”

Aching knees required Unseld to protect against playing in 1981, yet he continued to be with a franchise that retired his No. 41 jersey.

Unseld was Washington’s head coach native 1987-94, walking 202-345 v one playoff appearance. He additionally had a seven-year stint as GM native 1996-03, through one other postseason trip.

After the club’s then-owner, Abe Pollin, died in 2009, Unseld said: “I have no doubt that he preserved me much longer in positions 보다 he should have — and longer 보다 I wanted him to. He to be loyal.”

Unseld took a leave of lack from the Wizards for health reasons in 2003, finishing 35 year of consistent service to the franchise, and had both knees replaced.

In enhancement to Connie, Unseld is endured by his daughter Kim, boy Wes Unseld Jr., and also two grandchildren. Kim is a teacher at Unselds" School; Wes Jr. Is an assistant coach v the Denver Nuggets.

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Funeral arrangements to be pending.

“We every admired Wes together the shaft of this franchise because that so long,” Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said, “but it to be his work off the court that will truly leaving an impactful legacy and live on through the many human being he touched and influenced throughout his life that basketball and beyond.”