Four-time NBA All-Star and Hall of Famer Walt Bellamy passed away on Saturday, Nov. 2, at the age of 74.
The Atlanta Hawks were one of the five franchises Bellamy played for, and they released a statement in remembrance of the star center:
The Atlanta Hawks family is saddened to learn of the death of Walt Bellamy at the age of 74 earlier today. The Hawks and the National Basketball Association have lost a giant. As 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.
Commissioner David Stern also shared his thoughts on Bellamy, per NBA History's official Twitter:
Commissioner Stern on Walt Bellamy: "Walt Bellamy was an enormously gifted Hall of Fame player who had a tremendous impact on our game (1/3)— NBA History (@NBAHistory) November 2, 2013
"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." (2/3)— NBA History (@NBAHistory) November 2, 2013
"On behalf of the entire NBA family, our condolences and thoughts go out to Walt's family." (3/3) - Commissioner Stern on Walt Bellamy— NBA History (@NBAHistory) November 2, 2013
Bellamy was selected No. 1 overall in the 1961 draft by the Chicago Packers—now the Washington Wizards—and made his impact felt immediately in being chosen as the Association's top rookie after his maiden campaign.
In his first season, the 6'11" big man averaged 31.6 points and 19 rebounds per game, which compared favorably to one of his contemporaries in Wilt Chamberlain, who averaged 37.6 points and 27 rebounds in his rookie season.
Five seasons with the Washington franchise were followed by four with the New York Knicks, where Bellamy continued to excel.
Bellamy was then traded in the 1968-69 season to the Detroit Pistons. Since the teams had offsetting game schedules, Bellamy played in an NBA-record 88 regular-season games in that span, per Basketball-Reference.com.
A five-year stretch with the Hawks matched Bellamy's longest NBA stop, and he averaged a double-double every year but his last. The star then wrapped up his career by playing one game for the New Orleans Jazz in the 1974-75 season.
For his career, Bellamy shot 51.6 percent from the field and averaged 20.1 points, 13.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per contest.
This marks a sad day for the league, as Bellamy made a huge impact on pro basketball and played a vital role on so many franchises.