Westley Unseld Biography

Wes Unseld is a Hall of Fame player and was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history. He played his entire 13-year career with the Bullets and was a 5-time All-Star. He averaged 10.8 points and 14.0 rebounds over his career. Unseld and Wilt Chamberlain are the only players to receive both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player honors in the same season. He led the Bullets to four NBA Finals appearances, including the 1978 NBA Championship.

Early Years

Westley Sissel Unseld (Wes) was born on March 14, 1946 in Louisville, Kentucky to Charles and Cornelia Unseld. He led Seneca High School to two state championships.

College Career

Unseld stayed in his hometown to attend the University of Louisville. He averaged 20.4 points and 18.9 rebounds in his three varsity seasons. He was a consensus All-American as a senior in 1967-68. Entering the 2009-10 season, Unseld had the highest career point total for a three-year player. He was second all-time in career rebounds (1,551). His 20.6 scoring average and 18.9 rebound average still rank as the best in Louisville history.

Professional Career

The Baltimore Bullets made Unseld the second overall pick in the 1968 NBA Draft. In his first year, Unseld led the Bullets to a 57-25 record. He played in the NBA All-Star Game, tallying 11 points and 8 rebounds. He finished the season averaging 13.8 points and 18.2 rebounds on his way to Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player honors. Unseld and Wilt Chamberlain are the only players to receive both honors in the same season. Unseld is the youngest player named MVP in NBA history at the age of 23 years and 9 days on the final day of his team's last game of the regular season. His 13.8 PPG was the lowest scoring average for an MVP in history. However, the Bullets were swept from the playoffs in the Eastern Division Semifinals by the Knicks.

Unseld's greatest accomplishment came during the 1977-78 season when he led the Bullets to their only NBA Championship. No Bullets player ranked in the top 20 in scoring but six players averaged in double figures. The Bullets finished in second place in the Central Division but defeated the Hawks, Spurs and 76ers to reach the NBA finals and defeated the Sonics in seven games to win the title. Unseld averaged 9.4 points and 12.0 rebounds during the playoffs and was named NBA Finals MVP. He was the only NBA Finals MVP to come off the bench in a playoff game. The lowest career scoring average for an NBA Finals MVP is 10.8 PPG by Wes Unseld.

Unseld's final season was in 1980-81 after nagging knee injuries made him give up basketball. Entering the 2009-10 season, Unseld was 10th all-time in total rebounds (13,769) and 6th all-time in rebounds per game (14.0). He is the Wizards (formerly the Bullets) leader in games (984), rebounds, rebound average, and assists (3,822)

He was enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988 and named one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players in 1996.

Post-Playing Career

Unseld took over as the head coach of the Bullets in the middle of the 1987-88 season with the team sitting at 8-19. He guided them to a 30-25 record the rest of the way and a playoff berth before Washington lost to Detroit in the first round.

In all, Unseld coached for seven seasons, compiling a 202-345 (.369) record. His only playoff appearance was his first season. As of the end of the 2010-11 season, his .369 win percentage is the lowest among coaches with at least 400 games. Unseld aslo served as Washington's GM from 1996 to 2004, during which time the franchise made the playoffs just once.