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A warrior on and off the court has passed

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Walt Bellamy

A warrior on and off the court has passed

By Natasha Dowdy Gordon

I would be hard for most people to imagine the world of basketball without Julius Ervin, Magic Johnson, or Michael Jordan, but without men like Walt Bellamy and a few others, none of the high soaring careers of some of the best players on earth would have been possible. A big man with talent that seemed as though it was granted to him by the Greek Gods, Walt Bellamy has a secure place in NBA history as one of only seven players in the entire history if the NBA to stockpile over 20,000 points, and 14,000 rebounds during the course of his professional career. Mr. Bellamy departed this world on November 2, 2013, but his legacy will stand the test of time.

Chosen by the Chicago Packers as their number one pick in the 1961 NBA draft, Bellamy had a season most NBA players can only dream about, as he a-averaged an astonishing 31.6 points, and 19.0 rebounds per game. Beyond all of that, he had a 51.9 percent shot percentage from the field. Bellamy not only led the NBA for the 1961-62 season, but he solidified a league record. Bellamy’s break out season earned him the rookie of the year award.

It would be easy to assume that a man that was so full of talent and ability obviously had the entire world at his feet, but anyone making that assumption would be completely wrong in the specific case of Walt Bell-amy. Despite the fact that Bellamy is probably one of the great-est players to ever play in the NBA, his road to the path of his success was not an easy one, as he began charting his path during a time when Jim Crow, and segregation ruled the day.

Bellamy was raised in New Bern, North Carolina, and he was fully aware of his talent, and even more aware of where that talent could take him. During his junior year of high school, as luck or perhaps divine intervention would have it, Bellamy played a game of basketball with a few guys from Indiana, and they told him all about where they were from, and shared with him that if he was serious about going somewhere with his basketball talents, that he should consider going to Indiana University, as it was the one school that was the closest to the South that would accept African Americans.

Not only did Bellamy make the decision to attend Indiana University in 1958, once he got there he left a mark that was so broad, and so strong, it is un-likely that it will be erased by anyone anytime soon. While a Hoosier Bellemy was instrumental in helping the United States win the gold medal in the 1960 Olympics while playing alongside basketball legends Jerry West, and Oscar Robertson.

By the time that Bellamy graduated from Indiana University, he averaged 17.8 re-bounds per game, and that record is still untouched today. Bellamy also holds Indiana’s records for racking up the most double-doubles during his career, and also for having the most rebounds in a single season. Bellamy was selected to become a part of Indiana University’s All-Century Team in 2000.

There is no doubt that the loss of Walt Bellamy has left a huge void in the NBA, as NBA Commissioner David Stern said, “Walt Bellamy was an enormously gifted Hall of Fame player who had a tremendous impact on our game.” Bellamy’s passing has also left a huge and unexpected void in the lives of those who loved him best.

 

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    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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