Wes Unseld is an American former basketball player who played for the 'National Basketball Association’ (NBA) franchise team of the 'Bullets' for Baltimore, Capital, and Washington. He was a star player of his high school and university teams. Rated as one of the best defensive players of his time, Wes garnered fame for his rebounding skills, bone- jarring picks, and the ability to make fast breaks with his swift outlet passes. Despite his shorter height (6'7"), as per basketball standards, Wes made his way in the court all with his physical strength and pure determination. In his career, Wes played only for the 'Bullets' and after his retirement in 1981, he coached the team. For all his achievements in the sport, Wes is regarded as one of the greatest NBA players of all time.
Childhood & Early Life
Wes was born Westley Sissel Unseld, on March 14, 1946, in Louisville, Kentucky, to Charles Unseld and Cornelia Unseld. He has a brother named George.
Wes attended the 'Seneca High School' and helped the school team win the Kentucky state championships twice, in 1963, and 1964. He then graduated from the 'University of Louisville.' Wes is an 'Alpha Phi Alpha' fraternity member.
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In 1965, Wes played as center for the school freshman team at the 'University of Louisville' and averaged a score of 35.8 points and 23.6 rebounds over 14 games. He played for Louisville for his sophomore (1965–66), junior (1966–67), and senior (1967–68) years, scoring 1,686 points (20.6 average) and registering 1,551 rebounds (18.9 average) in 82 games.
During his collegiate career, Wes led his team to the NIT tournament in 1966 and the NCAA tournament in the following years. He was received the ‘NCAA All-American’ honors in 1967 and 1968.
Wes led the 'Missouri Valley Conference' in rebounding for all three years. He was then picked up by the 'Kentucky Colonels' during the 1968 'American Basketball Association' draft. 'Baltimore Bullets' then drafted him as second overall in the first round of the 1968 NBA draft.
Wes played as a rookie for 'Bullets' and helped the team register a 57–25 record and a division title. That year, with an average of 18.2 rebounds per game, he became the second player to date to win the ‘Rookie of the Year Award’ and the ‘Most Valuable Player Award’ in the same year, after the fellow ‘Hall of Fame’ player Wilt Chamberlain. Wes also won the 'Sporting News MVP’ that year and was hence named to the 'NBA All-Rookie First Team.'
In 1975, Wes led the NBA in rebounding and in the following season scored a field goal percentage of .561. He helped 'Bullets' franchise to qualify for four NBA finals, and ultimately winning the 1978 championship against the 'Seattle SuperSonics.' Wes was named the ‘Finals MVP’ in that very game.
Wes retired after the 1980–1981 season, followed by the retirement of his number-41 jersey by the 'Bullets.' He ended his career with a total of 984 NBA games for the 'Bullets,' averaged a double-double, and an average score of 10.8 points, 14.0 rebounds per game, and 3.9 assists per game, playing at an average of over 36 minutes in a game.
Even after his retirement in 1981, Wes remained with the 'Bullets' as a front office executive and served as vice president for six years. He then became the head coach of the 'Bullets' in 1988.
With a record score of 202–345, Wes resigned after the 1994 season and became the team's general manager in 1996. Wes had coached the team to the playoffs only once during his tenure with the 'Bullets.'
Wes was named in the 'Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame' in 1988, and in 1996, he was honored as one of the 50 greatest NBA players of all time.
Family & Personal Life
Wes is married to Connie who is the founder the co-ed private school till eighth grade, 'Unselds School,' located in southwest Baltimore. Connie and their daughter, Kimberley, teach at the school. Wes and Connie's son, Wes Unseld Jr., currently works as an assistant coach for the 'Denver Nuggets.'
Stan Love, father of Cavaliers all-star forward Kevin Love was Wes' 'Bullets' teammate and hence he made Kevin's godfather.
At present, Wes lives in Baltimore with his family.