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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Walt Wesley, first NBA participant from Fort Myers, Florida has handed away age 79 – Basketball Insiders

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As soon as a basketball legend at Dunbar Excessive in Fort Myers, Walt Wesley went on to star on the College of Kansas and finally performed a complete of 10 seasons within the NBA. Sadly, this week he handed away on the age of 79, however his legacy will proceed to stay on.

The information first got here to mild by the Kansas Metropolis Star, which revealed that the previous athlete had been battling with leukaemia for years now. He lastly handed away on the Moffitt Most cancers Heart in Tampa this Thursday morning, alongside his spouse Denise.

The match director of the Metropolis of Palms Basic, Donnie Wilkie, recognised him as a sports activities icon in his hometown. “He was one of many first constructing blocks for high-level basketball in Fort Myers,” he stated. “I feel it’s pretty straightforward to argue that he was essentially the most profitable skilled basketball participant to come back out of our space. I don’t suppose of us realized simply how good he was.”

20 years in the past, Wesley witnessed his personal No. 13 Jayhawks jersey retired on the Allen Fieldhouse, to honour his faculty profession that noticed him develop into a two-time all-Large Eight choice as a junior and senior, plus two All-American centre.

“Walt Wesley is without doubt one of the best males I’ve ever recognized,” stated Ted Owens, his coach at Kansas. “He was so beloved by his teammates, his coaches. He was simply a rare man. He got here to Kansas and labored so arduous to grow to be the good participant that he was. He beloved the College of Kansas and beloved being part of Kansas basketball. He touched all of our lives.”

The long-lasting huge man was destined for greatness, as everybody knew he would make it to the massive leagues after his 1964/65 season in Kansas, the place he averaged 23.5 factors per sport. He finally ended his faculty profession because the Jayhawks’ No. 11 all-time scorer, behind Corridor of Famer Wilt Chamberlain.

Wesley is even remembered by folks from his highschool days, as his former principal referred to as him a legend. “It’s a tragic day for Dunbar Excessive Faculty and the Dunbar neighborhood,” Carl Burnside stated. “A legend has handed on.”

The previous middle went on to play for eight totally different franchises throughout his decade-long NBA profession

Walt went on to enter the NBA after being picked because the sixth choose in 1966’s draft by the Cincinnati Royals. As soon as within the huge leagues, he moved round so much, with stops throughout the US, together with the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Capital Bullets (in the present day’s Washington Wizards), Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He averaged 8.5 factors per contest within the NBA, and competed in opposition to greats like Chamberlain, Nate Thurmond and Invoice Russell. In all probability his finest ever marketing campaign got here in 1970/71, as he led the Cavaliers in each scoring (17.7 factors) and rebounds with 8.7 per sport.

Despite the fact that he harvested plenty of success all through his profession, folks round him at all times remembered him as a “gentleman and a mild large.” His former highschool principal described him as a humble soul.

“He was a trailblazer that, whereas being a trailblazer, he might stroll down the street at 6-foot-11 and simply quietly be within the shadows,” Burnside stated. “You have been realizing that any individual who grew up in the identical space that I did was within the NBA. For a lot of, he most likely made the dream or the objectives actual.”

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