NBA, NBRPA react to death of former center Walt Bellamy


walt-bellamyFormer NBA center Walt Bellamy, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, passed away recently at the age of 74, NBA official website reported.

Bellamy was a 6-foot-11 center from New Bern, NC, who began his impressive basketball career at Indiana University, where he averaged a school-record 15.5 rebounds per game over the span of his 70-game career.

He also averaged 20.6 points per game and shot 51.7 percent from the floor during his college career. Bellamy was twice named All-American at Indiana and started at center for the gold-medal winning United States Olympic team in 1960.

Following Bellamy’s outstanding collegiate career, he was chosen as the first overall pick in the 1961 NBA draft by the Chicago Packers.

During his 1962 season with the Packers he was named NBA Rookie of the Year, averaging 31.6 points  and 19 rebounds per game. With that dominant rookie campaign, Bellamy became not only the first Hoosier chosen as the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, but also the first Hoosier to be named NBA Rookie of the Year.

Bellamy finished his NBA career with 20,941 points and 14,241 rebounds, making the All-Star team four times. Bellamy played 14 seasons for the Packers/Zephyrs, Baltimore Bullets, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, and New Orleans Jazz. He was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

Bellamy played in total of 1043 NBA games, averaging 20.1 ppg, 13.7 rpg in 37.3 minutes of playing time. He was elected the NBA All-Star 4 times in his career.

“The Atlanta Hawks family is saddened to learn of the death of Walt Bellamy at the age of 74 earlier today,” the Hawks said in a statement.

“The Hawks and the National Basketball Association have lost a giant. As an Olympic gold medalist, the first overall pick in 1961, Rookie of the Year in 1962, a four-time All-Star and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, his on-court accomplishments were overwhelming. Off the court, he was equally impactful as a family man, leader in the community, mentor and friend to many.”

“Walt Bellamy was an enormously gifted Hall of Fame player who had a tremendous impact on our game,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern. “Off the court, he was an even more extraordinary person. Walt is going to be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. On behalf of the entire NBA family, our condolences and thoughts go out to Walt’s family.”

The NBRPA also offered its condolences to the family the player.

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