Westley Sissel Unseld (born March 14, 1946) is an American former basketball player. He spent his entire NBA career with the Baltimore/Capital/Washington Bullets, and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988.
Early life and college career
Unseld starred for the Seneca High School team that won Kentucky state championships in 1963 and 1964. At the University of Louisville in 1965, he played center for the school’s freshman team, averaging 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 drafted by the Kentucky Colonels in the 1968 American Basketball Association draft, and was drafted second overall in the first round by the Baltimore Bullets in the 1968 NBA draft, helping lead the Bullets (who 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 became the second player ever to win the Rookie of the Year Award and the Most Valuable Player Award in the same year (second only to fellow Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain.) Unseld was also named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team, and also claimed the Sporting News MVP that year. He 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.
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 (6’7″) with brute strength and sheer determination. 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 1980-1981 season, and his #41 jersey was retired by the Bullets shortly thereafter.
In 984 NBA games – all with the Bullets – Unseld averaged a double-double, with averages of 10.8 points and 14.0 rebounds per game, as well as 3.9 assists per game, averaging over 36 minutes 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 his 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 1987. He resigned following the 1994 season with a 202-345 record (.369). Unseld became the team’s general manager in 1996 and guided the team to the playoffs once during his tenure.
Wes 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. He works as an office manager and head basketball coach. His son, Wes Unseld Jr., is a basketball coach and most recently served as an assistant coach for the Orlando Magic.
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|
|Denotes season in which Unseld won an NBA championship|
|*||Led the league|