Armen Gilliam, one of the best players ever to come out of UNLV who went on to spend 13 years as an underappreciated player in the NBA, has passed away at the age of 47.
“The Hammer” (as he was nicknamed) died from a heart attack suffered while playing pickup basketball not far from his home in Pittsburgh, according to the Associated Press.
Gilliam was the No. 2 pick overall of the Phoenix Suns in the 1987 NBA draft (behind David Robinson but ahead of guys like Scottie Pippen and Reggie Miller). He was a solid all-around power forward who could score in the lane and crash the boards. He went on to have a good career largely playing on bad teams, averaging 13.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
He played for the Suns, Hornets, Sixers, Nets, Bucks and Jazz in his 13 years in the NBA, making the playoffs five times and never getting out of the second round. For many of those teams he was one of the best players, a leader in the locker room and a fan favorite.
At UNLV he helped lead the team to the Final Four in 1987.