Former Indiana great Walt Bellamy dies at 74

  • 11/02/2013 9:25 pm in

Former Indiana great Walt Bellamy, the first Hoosier to ever be selected No. 1 in the NBA Draft, has passed away at age 74, the Atlanta Hawks announced Saturday afternoon.

Bellamy is regarded as one of the best Indiana basketball players of all-time, recording 1,441 points and 1,008 rebounds in a three-year career from 1958 to 1961. Earning two all-American honors during his time in Bloomington, he also was the first Hoosier to ever be the NBA Rookie of the Year. While he was a student at IU, Bellamy also won an Olympic gold medal in 1960.

“Walt Bellamy was one of the greatest players to ever wear the Hoosier uniform,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said in a press release. “He did things on the court that separated him as a transformational player and he did things statistically that boggled your mind. He was proud of being a Hoosier and told me he planned to see us this year. He was always willing to help. He will be missed and always respected.”

Bellamy still holds Indiana school records of most rebounds in a season (649), most rebounds in a single game (33), most double-doubles in a career (59) and most rebounds in a three-year career.

In a 14-year NBA career, Bellamy averaged 20.1 points and 13.7 rebounds per game. He also made the All-Star Game on four occasions and was a part of the 1982 inaugural Indiana University Athletic Hall of Fame class as well as a member of the 1993 class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“If you are naming the all-time best player at Indiana University, Walt Bellamy has to be in the conversation,” said Bob Hammel, former sports editor of the Bloomington Herald Times, in the release. “He was so powerful and very agile and was always appreciative of the recognition he received from IU.”

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  • Steve Fischer

    NO comments? I hope I’m not the only one old enough to remember him as an NBA Player. Anyone know what he did after his NBA Career? Anyway here’s a tribute to someone who set the path for many great players to attend IU. To any of his friends or family-sorry for your loss.

  • Snookafly

    Saddened to hear about the loss of one of the all time great Hoosiers.

  • InTheMtns

    Those are some amazing stats. 59 double-doubles. 1,008 rebounds. 1,441 points (in 3 years, before the three-point shot). A legend, for sure. R.I.P., Bells.

  • WisconHoosier

    I met him in 1973 at a summer basketball camp. Really nice guy. He signed autographs for anyone who asked. Then we had some burgers and shakes, just him and me at the table, and hung out for an hour at Lake James, talking basketball. As down to earth as a person could be.

  • Andrew

    Not nearly old enough to remember him but I know the name well. Can’t believe those NBA stats. Awesome. RIP Walt.

  • SCHoosier

    Saw him play for IU when he was a senior..everything said about him is true and then some. In today’s jargon..he would be a “one and done” college player. Smart and agile..tough as nails. Glad he was a Hoosier.

  • Outoftheloop

    Walt was a great person. I remember seeing him walk around the old campus when I was a little kid. He was as nice and friendly as he could be. He was the biggest human I ever met, a great player, an outstanding person, and he served as the “Marshall at Arms” for the GA State Legislature for dozens of years. He was universally liked and respected. We have lost a true Hoosier Legend and the world has lost a true gentleman.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    I remember him at that camp. It was my first camp and I was less than 5′ tall (4th grade). I remember looking up at him and thinking wow – he came to speak to us. It was an honor.