VIDEO: Bill Sharman passes away
By NBA.com staff
Bill Sharman, an eight-time All-Star with the Boston Celtics, a title-winning coach with the Los Angeles Lakers and one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players of All Time, has died, the Lakers have confirmed. He was 87 years old.
Arguably the greatest shooter of his era, Sharman was one of the first NBA guards to push his field-goal percentage above .400 for a season. He still ranks among the top free-throw shooters of all time, too, with a spectacular .883 lifetime percentage. He led the league in free-throw shooting for a record seven seasons.
From Friday’s The Los Angeles Times:
“Bill Sharman with the basketball at the free throw line was a sports work of art,” Jim Murray, the late Times columnist, wrote in 1994. “Ruth with a fastball, Cobb with a base open. Dempsey with his man on the ropes. Hogan with a long par three. Jones with a short putt. Caruso with a high C. Hope in a ‘Road’ movie. Shoemaker on the favorite. Sinatra with Gershwin.
“When it was Sharman at the line, the next sound you heard was swish! It was as foregone as the sun setting.”
Sharman is the only man to win championships in three professional leagues: the American Basketball League in 1962, the American Basketball Association in 1971 and the NBA in 1972. He also guided the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers to the best regular-season record (69-13) in NBA history until the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls finished 72-10.
The Lakers announced his passing in a release:
Bill Sharman, former Head Coach, General Manager, President and Special Consultant for the Lakers, passed away this morning at his home in Redondo Beach. Sharman passed away peacefully surrounded by his wife Joyce and his family.
In 1971-72, his first season with the Lakers, Sharman led the club to their first NBA championship in Los Angeles, a then-NBA record and current franchise record 69 wins, and compiled the longest winning streak in the history of professional sports (33 consecutive victories). Sharman’s success that season earned him the NBA’s “Coach of the Year” award, and he would go on to lead the team until 1975-76. After his coaching stint ended, Sharman transitioned to the Lakers front office, being named General Manager prior to the 1976-77 season and later becoming team president following the 1982 season. Sharman served for the past 23 years as a Special Consultant with the Lakers.
“Today is a sad day for anyone who loves and cares about the Lakers,” said Lakers President Jeanie Buss. “As our head coach, Bill led us to our first championship in Los Angeles, and he was an important contributor to the 10 championship teams that followed. For the last 34 years, his importance to Dr. Buss and our family, and for the last 42 years to the Lakers organization, cannot be measured in words. His knowledge and passion for the game were unsurpassed, and the Lakers and our fans were beneficiaries of that. Despite his greatness as a player, coach and executive, Bill was one of the sweetest, nicest and most humble people I’ve ever known. He was truly one of a kind. On behalf of our organization, the Buss family, and the entire Lakers family, I send my condolences, prayers and love to Joyce and the Sharman family.”
“Bill Sharman was a great man, and I loved him dearly,” said Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak. “From the time I signed with the team as a free agent in 1981 when Bill was General Manager, he’s been a mentor, a work collaborator, and most importantly, a friend. He’s meant a great deal to the success of the Lakers and to me personally, and he will be missed terribly. My love and sympathy go to Joyce and Bill’s family.”
Sharman was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1976 and as a coach in 2004, joining John Wooden and Lenny Wilkens as the only men honored in both roles, and in 1996 was selected as one of the 50 greatest players of the NBA’s first 50 years.