Former player for the Washington Bullets and coach, Wes Unseld died Thursday morning at the age of 74.
Unseld recently had a battle with pneumonia. In a statement to ESPN, Unseld’s family share he had lengthy health issues.
“He was the rock of our family — an extremely devoted patriarch who reveled in being with his wife, children, friends and teammates,” the family said. “He was our 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 is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He played 15 years with the Wizards between 1968 and 1981, leading the franchise to their own NBA championship in 1978. He was named Finals MVP. He also won league MVP in 1969 and was a five-time NBA All-Star.
“Wes Unseld was one of the most consequential players of his era,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said. “An NBA MVP and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, Wes elevated the game by mastering the fundamentals. His competitive drive and selfless approach made him a beloved teammate, a respected opponent and a cornerstone of the Washington Wizards franchise, with whom he won an NBA championship. Wes also set the model of class, integrity and professionalism for the entire NBA family during stints as a player, coach and team executive with Washington and through his dedication to expanding educational opportunities for children.”