Wes Unseld, the first black athlete to be offered a scholarship at the University of Kentucky (he turned it down to attend Louisville), who then went on to a Hall of Fame career in the NBA, died at the age of 74.
Around the NBA there has been mourning, starting with Kevin Love, who’s middle name is Wesley after Unseld.
“Wes Unseld was one of the most consequential players of his era,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “An NBA MVP and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, Wes elevated the game by mastering the fundamentals. His competitive drive and selfless approach made him a beloved teammate, a respected opponent and a cornerstone of the Washington Wizards franchise, with whom he won an NBA championship. Wes also set the model of class, integrity and professionalism for the entire NBA family during stints as a player, coach and team executive with Washington and through his dedication to expanding educational opportunities for children. We send our deepest sympathies to Wes’ wife, Connie; their son, Wes Jr. (who is an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets); their daughter, Kim; and the Wizards organization.”
The best player currently in Washington, Bradley Beal, led a chorus of people taking to social media to praise Unseld.
RIP WES UNSELD! 😢
BULLETS LEGEND forever.
— Bradley Beal (@RealDealBeal23) June 2, 2020
Wes Unseld was one of the finest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. He was my friend, my Kentucky homeboy, and my coach. Heartbreaking.
The gentlest of giants.
Rest, Wes.🏀❤️🌎 pic.twitter.com/5ZSj1zVRQh
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) June 2, 2020
Wes Unseld was a great leader, a dedicated family man and a tremendous human being – My deepest sympathies & condolences to the Unseld family – Wes will always be remembered & greatly missed | @WashWizards | @MSE https://t.co/Y3oddvbb28
— Ted Leonsis (@TedLeonsis) June 2, 2020
Wes Unseld was my first hero. The first basketball camp I attended was his camp at the age of 9. The memories and lessons stuck with me. When I became a GM it was surreal to be scouting on the road with him. He was a great player, but a better person. RIP Wes Unseld. pic.twitter.com/8WjI7tLTOW
— Billy King (@bkdefend) June 2, 2020
Wes Unseld was a warrior! He was The shortest starting center in the NBA, and was also the toughest. So sound fundamentally, when he blocked you out for he would put you in the third row! With all due respect to Darrell G, Wes will always be the greatest U of L Cardinal. pic.twitter.com/RORaa9bKRP
— Dan Issel (@DanIssel44) June 2, 2020