Former Washington Bullets player and coach Wes Unseld died Tuesday morning at the age of 74. Unseld's family released a statement, saying that he had dealt with a variety of health issues, including pneumonia.
"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 played for Washington from 1968 to 1981 and had a storied career with the team. Along with making five All-Star teams and being named league MVP in 1969, Unseld was an essential part of Washington's only championship in 1978. Unseld then coached Washington from 1988 to 1994. In 1988, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1981, Unseld's No. 41 became the first number retired in Washington's franchise history.
Several former teammates of Unseld expressed their sadness at the news of his death, including Phil Chenier.
"Wes was truly a gentle giant," said Chenier, who played nine seasons with Unseld. "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."
Evlin Hayes, who was selected one spot before Unseld in the 1968 draft before joining him on the Bullets in 1972, also shared a message to honor his teammate and friend.
"I lost a great friend and teammate this morning who went home to Christ," Hayes said. "Know we all had great love for both you and your family always my friend."
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