Wes Unseld passes away at 74

The year 2020 has claimed another basketball luminary.

NBA Hall of Famer and Washington Bullets (for those who are ignorant to this bit of history, the Bullets are now the Wizards) legend Wes Unseld died Tuesday morning.

In a statement released by the family Tuesday, it was indicated that Mr. Unseld had lengthy health issues, with the most recent being pneumonia.

He was taken number 2 overall in the 1968 NBA Draft by the Baltimore Bullets, right after future teammate Elvin Hayes. He would be come only the second player, along with Wilt Chamberlain, to take home the Roomie of the Year and MVP in the same season. Unseld enjoyed HOF playing career that spanned from 1968-1981, all spent with the Bullets, during which he helped the franchise win its only league championship in 1977-78

Though he was only 6-foot-7, Unseld still managed to pull down 13,769 rebounds, the most by a player 6’8″ and below. Unseld was also a five-time All-Star and was the first Washington player to have his number, 41, retired.


“Wes was truly a gentle giant. His scowl could be intimidating, but really he was a kind, thoughtful and protective comrade. Wes is the epitome of a great teammate, team leader and friend.”

Phil Chenier, who played nine seasons with Unseld

Elvin Hayes expressed words of sadness over Unseld’s passing.

I lost a great friend and teammate this morning who went home to Christ. Know we all had great love for both you and your family always, my friend.

After his HOF playing career, Unseld worked in the Bullets’ front office and then sat in the head coaching chair for seven seasons from 1987-94 compiling 202-345, including one playoff appearance (1987-88). He was also was the GM from 1996-03, which resulted in another post season appearance (1996-97).

Every time you see Kevin Love or another player fire a deadly accurate long outlet pass, think of Wes Unseld.

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