Washington Wizards legend Wes Unseld, who is also generally regarded as the greatest player in franchise history, passed away this morning at 74. Unseld has battled health issues for years including a recent bout with pneumonia.
Statement from the Unseld Family.
"It is with profound sadness that we share that our adored husband, father and grandfather Wes Unseld passed away peacefully this morning surrounded by family following lengthy health battles, most recently with pneumonia. He was the rock of our family – an extremely devoted patriarch who reveled in being with his wife, children, friends and teammates. 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.
His legacy lives on in the family he treasured – his daughter Kim, son Wes, daughter-in-law Evelyn, grandchildren Layla and Wes and the love of his life for 50 years, his wife Connie – and in the community through the Unselds’ School, where the entire family contributed to enriching the lives of Baltimore’s youth.
We would like to thank everyone who knew and loved him, personally and professionally, for their support during this loss. We will share information in the near future about how we will celebrate Wes’ incredible life.
After an All American career at Louisville where he averaged 20.6 points and 18.9 rebounds a game, Unseld was drafted second in the 1968 NBA Draft by the then Baltimore Bullets. His impact was immediate. Unseld would help lead the Bullets to a 57-25 record, a 21 game turnaround, by averaging 13.8 points and 18.2 rebounds, becoming the second player ever (Wilt Chamberlain) to be named Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season.
The five time all star led the Bullets/Wizards franchise to four NBA finals (71,75, 78,79) , capturing the franchise only championship in 1978 after defeating the Seattle Supersonics in seven games, which Unseld was named finals MVP. Unseld retired following the 1980-1981 season and moved into the Bullets/Wizards front office, serving as vice president until he joined the sidelines as head coach in 1988. He resigned from the head coaching position in 1994, yet, rejoined the franchise as general manager in 1996, sitting in the position until 2003 (excluding a brief one-year stint as Michael Jordan took over the duties) . During his tenure as general manager the Bullets/ Wizards earned one playoff berth in 1997.
Unseld’s biggest accomplishment arguably came away from the court, as he and his wife, Connie, opened the Unselds’ School in Baltimore in 1978. The school is one of the few fully-accredited, black-owned, non-church-affiliated elementary schools in Maryland, with Connie serving as the principal, his daughter, Kim, serving as one of the primary teachers at the school, and Wes occasionally serving as the bus driver. Unseld’s son, Wes Unseld Jr., currently serves as the lead assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets.
At this time, the family would appreciate privacy as we navigate this difficult loss. In lieu of flowers, we ask that donations be made to the Unselds’ School using the following link: https://monumentalsports.formstack.com/forms/wesunseldschool.