Sports Out West

Bill Sharman, former Lakers coach and Hall of Famer, dies at 87

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times

Bill Sharman, who was a Hall of Fame guard for the Boston Celtics in the 1950s and former head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers that helped lead the franchise to its first NBA title in Los Angeles, died on Friday at the age of 87, according to Claire Noland and Jerry Crowe of the Los Angeles Times.

Sharman had suffered a mild stroke last Saturday and died Friday morning in his home in Redondo Beach, said his wife, Joyce.

He was born in 1926 in Abilene, Texas, he spent his childhood in Lomita and attended Narbonne High School in Harbor City before he moved to Porterville in the San Joaquin Valley. In high school, he was a multi-sport athlete who along with basketball played baseball, boxing, track, football, and tennis.

Sharman excelled in baseball earning him a draft selection in 1950 MLB draft by the then Brooklyn Angeles Dodgers, which at the end of the 1951 season was called up to the majors and played a total of five years in professional baseball. 

As a professional basketball player was elected in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1976 and as a coach in 2004, which he accompanied John Wooden and Lenny Wilkens as the only there people to accomplish this feat. He was also in 1996 named as one of the 50 greatest players in the NBA in its first 50 years of existence.

He played his college basketball for four seasons at the University of Southern California before being selected as the 17th overall pick in the 1950 NBA Draft by the Washington Capitols, where he spent one season with the franchise before spending the next decade playing for the Celtics.

With the Celtics, he had an illustrious career that included four NBA championships (1957, 1959-1961), eight All-Star game selections (1953-1960), four NBA All-First team honors(1956–1959), three NBA All-Second team (1953, 1955, 1960) and one All-Star game MVP (1955).

In his 11-year career in the NBA, he averaged 17.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.

Sharman began his coaching career in 1966 as the head coach for the San Francisco Warriors in the ABA for two seasons then went on to coach the then Los Angeles Stars and won an ABA title with the franchise in the 1970-71 season when the organization moved to Utah. The following year, he resigned as the head coach and accepted the chance to coach the Lakers.

In first season in 1971-72 as the Lakers head coach, Sharman helped lead the franchise with players such as Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West win over the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals, which marked the organization’s first title in over a decade in a year that the team had a 69-13 record in regular season record that included a 33-game winning streak, which is still tops in all professional sports, that helped him earn the NBA Coach of the Year award that season.

Off the court prior to his basketball career, Sharman had also served in the Navy during World War II from 1944 to 1946.

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times


 

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia is a sports journalist from Southern California. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.