Basketball Sports

Walter Davis, Basketball Star With a Velvet Contact, Dies at 69

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Walter Davis, whose clean taking pictures propelled him to basketball stardom with the College of North Carolina and the Phoenix Suns, however who late in his profession struggled with drug habit, died on Thursday whereas visiting household in Charlotte, N.C. He was 69.

The college introduced his loss of life however didn’t specify a trigger.

Davis, a 6-foot-6 ahead, performed at North Carolina from 1973 to 1977 for Dean Smith, one of the vital profitable coaches in school historical past. He averaged 15.7 factors a recreation over 4 seasons on Tar Heels groups that additionally included Bobby Jones, Phil Ford and Mitch Kupchak.

In considered one of Davis’s signature video games, in March 1974, North Carolina was dropping to Duke, 86-78, with 17 seconds left. After North Carolina closed the deficit to 2 factors with time expiring, Davis tied it with a shot from a distance estimated at between 30 and 35 ft. (The basket would have counted for 3 factors and received the sport right this moment, however the three-point shot was not formally launched by the N.C.A.A. till 1986.) North Carolina went on to win in extra time, 96-92.

“I wasn’t making an attempt to financial institution it in,” Davis, then a freshman, mentioned afterward. “It wasn’t a desperation shot. I used to be simply making an attempt to do my half, that’s all. I didn’t enable myself to consider something. I simply advised myself it might solely do two issues, go in or come again out.”

In 1976 he was a member of the USA crew, additionally coached by Dean Smith, that received a gold medal on the Olympics in Montreal. A yr later, he led North Carolina with 20 factors — and 10 of his crew’s final 12 — when it misplaced to Marquette, 67-59, within the ultimate recreation of the N.C.A.A. males’s basketball match.

He was twice chosen for all-Atlantic Coast Convention groups.

His nephew Hubert is at present the North Carolina coach.

Walter Davis was born on Sept. 9, 1954, in Pineville, N.C. His highschool in Charlotte received three state titles in basketball earlier than he left to attend prep college in Delaware. He arrived at North Carolina in 1973.

In 1977, Davis had surgical procedure on a damaged finger after North Carolina received the A.C.C. match in his senior yr. “Earlier than they put me out, I bear in mind wanting up and Coach Smith was proper there,” he advised Ken Rosenthal for his e-book “Dean Smith: A Tribute” (2001). “I bear in mind seeing him and having the screws drilled into my finger.”

Davis was drafted by the Phoenix Suns within the first spherical of the 1977 N.B.A. draft. After averaging 24.2 factors a recreation — the very best common of any season in his profession — he was voted the league’s Rookie of the Yr. He remained a gradual performer all through his 11 seasons with Phoenix, averaging 20.5 factors a recreation as a small ahead and taking pictures guard.

Throughout a recreation in 1983, he set a league document by scoring 34 factors (on 15 discipline objectives and 4 free throws) in opposition to Seattle earlier than lacking a shot.

“I don’t bear in mind a sweeter shot,” Alvan Adams, considered one of his teammates, advised in 2015. “He was a feared shooter. The opposite crew knew it, too.”

Chuck Daly, then the Detroit Pistons’ coach, advised The New York Instances in 1987: “Walter is an efficient shooter till the fourth interval. Then he turns into a terrific shooter.”

Davis had two nicknames: Candy D and Greyhound.

In his later years in Phoenix, Davis handled drug issues. In 1986, he spent a month in a drug rehabilitation middle to deal with cocaine and alcohol dependency. Early the following yr he advised The Instances, “The scariest half is realizing that it’s a illness that I must work on for the remainder of my life.”

When he relapsed in 1987, Davis was suspended by the league and as soon as once more entered a drug rehabilitation facility. He additionally acquired immunity from prosecution when he agreed to testify in opposition to a number of present and former Suns teammates, who have been indicted on drug costs.

In his testimony, The Arizona Republic reported, Davis mentioned that he had first used cocaine in his second season within the league after being launched to it by a teammate, Gar Heard. When requested by a prosecutor who else was there, he mentioned, “Just about the entire crew.”

Later that yr, Davis mentioned that prosecutors had compelled him to testify in opposition to his teammates.

“I had no selection,” he told Sports Illustrated. “The very last thing I wished to do was get my teammates and associates indicted. If I’d recognized I used to be going to try this, I’d have in all probability gone to jail as an alternative.”

Davis left the Suns in 1988 to signal as a free agent with the Denver Nuggets. He was traded to the Portland Path Blazers in 1991 after which re-signed with Denver, the place he performed within the 1991-92 season earlier than retiring.

Davis averaged 18.9 factors a recreation for his profession and performed in six All-Star Video games.

After his retirement, he labored as an announcer and group ambassador for the Nuggets and a scout for the Washington Wizards.

Info on survivors was not instantly out there.