Celtics, Lakers legend Sharman dies
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Sharman, a champion player with the Boston Celtics and championship coach and executive with the Los Angeles Lakers, died Friday morning. He was 87.
The Lakers said in a news release Sharman died in his Redondo Beach, Calif., home surrounded by his wife, Joyce, and other family.
Sharman was one of few to cross the Celtics-Lakers rivalry. He played 10 of his 11 seasons in Boston, winning four championships alongside Bill Russell and Bob Cousy. Known for his outstanding shooting, the guard made four All-NBA first teams and led the NBA in free throw percentage seven times. He retired after the 1961 championship with career averages of 17.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists a game.
Sharman quickly moved into coaching, leading the San Francisco Warriors to the 1967 NBA Finals in his first season. He returned to Los Angeles, where he went to college at the University of Southern California, in 1968 to coach the American Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Stars and stayed with them when they moved to Utah in 1970, leading the Utah Stars to the 1971 ABA title.
Sharman was hired to coach the star-studded Lakers that offseason, and he immediately steered a Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West-led team to the 1972 NBA championship, the franchise’s first in Los Angeles. He brought the team back to the NBA Finals the following year but lost to the New York Knicks.
After three less successful seasons, Sharman moved to the Lakers’ front office, becoming general manager, then team president, then special consultant during an era featuring Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and five championships.
“Today is a sad day for anyone who loves and cares about the Lakers,” Lakers President Jeanie Buss said. “For the last 34 years, his importance to (late Lakers owner Jerry) Buss and our family, and for the last 42 years to the Lakers organization, cannot be measured in words. His knowledge and passion for the game were unsurpassed, and the Lakers and our fans were beneficiaries of that. Despite his greatness as a player, coach and executive, Bill was one of the sweetest, … [For more on Celtics and Lakers legend Bill Sharman dies at age 87, click here.]