Hall of Fame center Walt Bellamy, who played two years for the Baltimore Bullets in the early 1960s, died on Nov. 2 according to reports. The cause of his death has not yet been reported; he was 74-years-old.
The Atlanta Hawks, for whom Bellamy played for four years from 1970-1974, said he had just attended the team’s first home game of the season the day before his death.
“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. 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.’”
Bellamy played for six different NBA teams through 14 years, including the Baltimore Bullets (formerly the Chicago Packers) from 1961 to 1965; the New York Knicks from 1965 to 1968; the Detroit Pistons from 1968 to 1970; the Hawks from 1970 to 1974; and the New Orleans Jazz in 1974. He was a four-time NBA All-Star and was named the NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 31.6 points per game during the 1961-62 season.
He averaged 20.1 points and 13.7 rebounds throughout his NBA career. Bellamy earned his Olympic Gold medal as the starting center for the 1960 U.S. Basketball team while also playing college basketball for the Indiana Hoosiers.
“Walt Bellamy was an enormously gifted Hall of Fame player who had a tremendous impact on our game,”’ NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement released by the league. ‘”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.”