Hall of Fame center Walt Bellamy dies

Hall of Fame center Walt Bellamy dies
November 2, 2013, 10:00 pm
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Hall of Fame center Walt Bellamy, the first player drafted in the history of the Bullets/Wizards franchise died Saturday. He was 74.

Two seasons before the franchise became the Baltimore Bullets, the Chicago Packers selected the 6-foot-11 center with the No. 1 overall pick in 1961. Bellamy, the 1961-62 Rookie of the Year, would eventually play parts of three seasons in Baltimore and 14 seasons during a career in which he averaged 20.1 points and 13.7 rebounds.
The Wizards released a statement about the four-time NBA All-Star who won a gold medal with the 1960 U.S. Olympic team:

"The Washington Wizards would like to extend their deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of Walt Bellamy, an original member of our franchise and the first player drafted in our team’s history. His All-Star play, scoring ability and dominance on the glass established us in the league during our two seasons in Chicago and in the region for our first three seasons in Baltimore. Walt’s on-court feats will live forever in the record books, while his legacy as a leader in the community will live forever in the lives of those he touched."

Sports Illustrated's Frank Deford wrote about the Bill Russell contemporary in 1970 (h/t SI.com):

"Bill Russell has often said that some games that Bellamy played against him were the best any man ever showed him, but Bellamy’s inconsistency is implicit in that statement. His nadir was reached at Detroit, where he was literally not playing a full minute at the end of his stay, but since joining Atlanta he has performed with a vengeance. Not only has he given the Hawks what they hoped for—board strength and offense in the middle—but his passing off the high post has been a real bonus, and he has been scrambling and diving for loose balls like a rookie."