Legendary North Carolina Basketball Star Passes Away
It has been a tough couple of days for basketball players and fans of a certain age. Yesterday brought the news of the passing of Coach Bob Knight (Army, Indiana, Texas Tech). He amassed 902 wins, 3 national titles, and an Olympic Gold Medal. He also was easily among the most complicated and controversial figures in sport in my lifetime.
Then today came the news that hit a little closer to home. Although I grew up in Texas, my parents were native North Carolinians. This meant that as my love for, and abilities in the game grew, they cultivated a passionate love for Dean Smith’s North Carolina Tar Heels. For several years, I made the trip from Texas to be a part of “Carolina Basketball School” in the summer. After one such summer I received a handwritten note from Coach Smith telling me he’d be watching my high school career with great interest. It remains a highlight of my basketball life. Other highlights of those summers was getting to be around legitimate Carolina basketball legends. One of which was “Sweet D,” Walter Davis. Walter Davis has passed away at age 69.
Every boy who ever saw him play wanted to have a jump shot as textbook and beautiful as Walter’s. His form was so perfect and so sweet you were amazed any time the ball had the audacity to not go in. Beginning in 1973, Walter Davis teamed with the likes of Phil Ford and Mitch Kupchak to win ACC Championships and make it to the National Title game in 1977 (losing to Marquette). He also won an Olympic Gold Medal in Montreal in 1976 on a team coached by Dean Smith.
The two things that stand out in my memory about Walter Davis (besides his amazing shooting), were: a. What a killer he was to my Houston Rockets when he played for the Phoenix Suns -and- b. What a genuinely nice man he was to me when I met him. He signed my shoes and worked with me on my shooting form for a few minutes. Those few minutes made a huge difference in my life and playing career.
Speaking of his time with the Phoenix Suns, the team made him the number 5 pick in the 1977 draft. Davis would go on to average 20 points a game for six seasons and his number 6 jersey is retired by the team.
His nephew Hubert is the current coach of The North Carolina Tar Heels. Walter Davis, gone too soon at age 69. RIP
Legendary Tar Heel Walter Davis Passes Away At Age 69 https://t.co/OgLLY355Zv— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) November 2, 2023