Former Lakers Coach, NBA Legend Bill Sharman Dies at 87

One of the NBA's great shooters, Bill Sharman went on to coach the Lakers to their first NBA title in Los Angeles

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Friday, Oct 25, 2013  |  Updated 1:29 PM PDT
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In this April 6, 2012, file photo, Bill Sharman gesturing as he is honored along with other members of the 1974 Los Angeles Lakers Championship team.

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Bill Sharman, an eight-time All-Star who led the Lakers to their first NBA championship in Los Angeles, died Friday morning at his Southern California home.

Sharman "passed away peacefully" at his home in Redondo Beach, according to a statement from the team.

"Today is a sad day for anyone who loves and cares about the Lakers," said Lakers President Jeanie Buss.  "As our head coach, Bill led us to our first championship in Los Angeles, and he was an important contributor to the 10 championship teams that followed."

Sharman remained a member of the Lakers organization for four decades, serving as head coach, general manager and president and special consultant. He joined the organization as head coach for the 1971-72 season and led the team to its first title in LA after relocating from Minneapolis.

The team won 69 games that season -- a then-NBA record that still stands as the Lakers single-season win record. The team's stunning run included a record 33-game win streak.

"His importance to Dr. Buss and our family, and for the last 42 years to the Lakers organization, cannot be measured in words," Jeannie Buss said. "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, nicest and most humble people I've ever known. He was truly one of a kind."

Sharman's success as an NBA player -- he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1976 -- came as a member of the rival Boston Celtics, but his roots were firmly planted in California. He was born in Abilene, Texas, but grew up in Lomita and attended Narbonne High School in Harbor City before attending the University of Southern California, where he excelled at basketball and baseball.

A pure shooter, one of his era's best, Sharman led the league in freethrow percentage for a record seven seasons during his 11-year professional career. Teaming with Bob Cousy in the backcourt, Sharman won four titles with the Celtics.

He retired in 1961 as a player and went to win titles in three professional basketball leagues -- the American Basketball League, American Basketball Association and the NBA. The 1972 title run record of 69-13 stood as the league's best until the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls went 72-10.
 

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