Basketball Hall of Fame Player/Coach Bill Sharman Dies at Age 87Mason Levinson
Bill Sharman, the Hall of Fame guard for the Boston Celtics who later coached the Los Angeles Lakers to a record 33 straight wins and their first championship in the city, has died. He was 87.
Sharman had a stroke last week and died at his home in Redondo Beach, California, the Los Angeles Times said, citing his wife, Joyce. John Black, a spokesman for the Lakers, confirmed Sharman’s death in an e-mail.
Sharman was voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1976 and as a coach in 2004, joining John Wooden and Lenny Wilkens as the third person with the dual honor.
He was selected by the Washington Capitols in the 1950 National Basketball Association draft, playing one season for that team and the next decade with the Celtics, alongside future hall of famers Bill Russell and Bob Cousy.
A four-time All-NBA First Team selection, Sharman averaged 17.8 points a game, winning titles with the Celtics in 1957 and from 1959 to 1961. The franchise eventually claimed nine championships in 10 years.
Sharman began his NBA coaching career with the San Francisco Warriors in 1966, worked in the American Basketball Association for three seasons and in 1971 was hired to lead the Lakers, whose roster included Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Gail Goodrich and Pat Riley.
The team won a record 33 games in a row from Nov. 5, 1971, to Jan. 7, 1972, finishing the season with a 69-13 record and beating the New York Knicks in five games in the NBA Finals.
Sharman posted a 466-353 coaching record before becoming the Lakers’ general manager, and then president, through 1990.
He said during his 2004 Hall of Fame enshrinement speech in Springfield, Massachusetts, that he lost his voice while coaching and that he still was struggling with the condition.
“I look back on my career and I’ve been so lucky,” Sharman said during the speech, which is posted on the Hall’s website. “To give you an update on what I’m doing today, I’m not playing ball, but I’m still having a ball.”
William Walton Sharman was born May 25, 1926, in Abilene, Texas. He served in the U.S. Navy and then attended the University of Southern California, where he was a two-time All-American.
He also played minor-league baseball for five years.