|Intro||American basketball player and coach|
|A.K.A.||Westley Sissel Unseld, Westly Sissel Unseld|
|Is||Athlete Basketball player Sports coach Basketball coach Sports official Sports administrator|
|From||United States of America|
|Birth||14 March 1946, Louisville, USA|
Westley Sissel Unseld (March 14, 1946 – June 2, 2020) was an American professional basketball player, coach and executive. He spent his entire National Basketball Association (NBA) career with the Baltimore/Capital/Washington Bullets. Unseld played collegiately for the Louisville Cardinals and was drafted second overall by the Bullets in the 1968 NBA draft. He was named the NBA Most Valuable Player during his rookie season and joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only two players in NBA history to accomplish the feat. Unseld won a championship with the Bullets in 1978. After his retirement from playing in 1981, he worked with the Bullets as a vice president, head coach and general manager.
Unseld was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988 and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
Early life and college career
Unseld starred for the Seneca High School team that won Kentucky state championships in 1963 and 1964. He was recruited by over 100 colleges, including the University of Kentucky. Unseld became the first African-American athlete to be offered an athletic scholarship to the school when Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball coach Adolph Rupp attempted to recruit him to the team. Integration leaders in Louisville tried to persuade Unseld to attend the University of Kentucky and stated that "it would be good for Kentucky and the Southeastern Conference." However, he chose to enroll at the University of Louisville in 1965 where he played center for the school's freshman team and averaged 35.8 points and 23.6 rebounds over 14 games. Unseld lettered for Louisville as a sophomore (1965–66), junior (1966–67), and senior (1967–68), scored 1,686 points (20.6 average) and grabbed 1,551 rebounds (18.9 average) over 82 games. He led the Missouri Valley Conference in rebounding all three years.
Unseld earned NCAA All-American honors in 1967 and 1968 and led Louisville to a 60–22 record during his collegiate career, making trips to the NIT tournament in 1966 and NCAA tournament in 1967 and 1968. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
Unseld was selected as the second overall pick by the Baltimore Bullets in the 1968 NBA draft. He was also selected by his hometown Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association (ABA) in the 1968 ABA draft. Unseld was offered contracts by both teams but opted to sign with the Bullets of the more successful NBA despite them allegedly offering less money. After signing Unseld, Bullets owner Earl Foreman proclaimed that "this contract represents the most attractive and rewarding contract that has or will be signed by any player in the NBA this year."
In his first career game, Unseld recorded 8 points and 22 rebounds in a 124–116 Baltimore win over the Detroit Pistons. On October 19, Unseld recorded his first double-double of his career after recording 13 points and 20 rebounds in a 124–121 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. On November 22, Unseld recorded 20 points and a career-high 29 rebounds in a 110-121 loss to the Sixers.
As a rookie, Unseld helped lead the Bullets (which had finished in last place in the Eastern division the previous year) to a 57–25 record and a division title. Unseld averaged 18.2 rebounds per game that year, and joined fellow future Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain to become the second player ever to win the Rookie of the Year Award and the Most Valuable Player Award in the same year. Unseld was also named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team, and also claimed the Sporting News MVP that year.
Unseld was one of the best defensive players of his era, and in 1975, he led the NBA in rebounding. The following season, he led the NBA in field goal percentage with a .561 percentage.
Unseld took the Bullets franchise to four NBA Finals, and won the championship in 1978 over the Seattle SuperSonics, in which he was named the Finals MVP. He ended his playing career following the 1980–81 season, and his No. 41 jersey was retired by the Bullets shortly thereafter.
Famed for his rebounding, bone-jarring picks and ability to ignite a fast break with his crisp, accurate outlet passes, Unseld made up for his lack of size with brute strength and sheer determination. In 984 NBA games – all with the Bullets – Unseld averaged a double-double in points and rebounds, with averages of 10.8 points and 14.0 rebounds per game. He also averaged 3.9 assists, excellent for a center, in the 36 minutes he played per game. Unseld was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988, and in 1996, he was named as one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players of all time.
Executive and coaching career
After Unseld’s retirement in 1981, he moved into a front office position with the Bullets, where he served as vice president for six years before being named head coach in 1988. He resigned following the 1994 season with a 202–345 record (.369). Unseld became the Bullets' general manager in 1996 and served in that role for seven years. He guided the team to the playoffs once during his tenure as general manager.
Unseld's wife, Connie, opened Unselds School in 1979. A coed private school located in southwest Baltimore, it has a daycare program, nursery school and a kindergarten-to-eighth grade curriculum. Connie and daughter Kimberley serve as teachers at the school. Unseld worked as an office manager and head basketball coach. He was the godfather of Cleveland Cavaliers all-star forward, Kevin Love, as Kevin's father Stan Love was a teammate of Unseld's on the Baltimore Bullets. His son, Wes Jr., became a basketball coach with the Denver Nuggets.
On June 2, 2020, Unseld's family announced that he had died after suffering lengthy health battles, including most recently with pneumonia.
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
|†||Won an NBA championship||*||Led the league|
|Regular season||G||Games coached||W||Games won||L||Games lost||W–L %||Win–loss %|
|Playoffs||PG||Playoff games||PW||Playoff wins||PL||Playoff losses||PW–L %||Playoff win–loss %|
|Washington||1987–88||55||30||25||.545||2nd in Atlantic||5||2||3||.400||Lost in First Round|
|Washington||1988–89||82||40||42||.488||4th in Atlantic||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Washington||1989–90||82||31||51||.378||4th in Atlantic||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Washington||1990–91||82||30||52||.366||4th in Atlantic||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Washington||1991–92||82||25||57||.305||6th in Atlantic||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Washington||1992–93||82||22||60||.268||7th in Atlantic||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Washington||1993–94||82||24||58||.293||7th in Atlantic||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|