UCLA and NBA great Walt Hazzard dies

Walt Hazzard, the former UCLA and NBA star who played on the Bruins’ first NCAA championship basketball team in 1964 and later coached the team for four seasons in the 1980s, died Friday. He was 69.

Hazzard’s family said he had been recuperating for a long time from complications following heart surgery. The school said Hazzard died at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center.

He had a stroke in March 1996 and made a strong recovery, but became less publicly active. He made occasional appearances at UCLA games in recent years.

— Reported by the Associated Press

A three-year starter, Hazzard did become an All-American in 1963 and again in 1964, when the Bruins went 30-0 and won the first of Wooden’s 10 NCAA titles. Hazzard was named the outstanding player of the 1964 NCAA Final Four.

“Recruiting after that 1964 national championship was tremendous,” Wooden said later. “Lew Alcindor [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar] would never have come to UCLA had we not won it in 1964 and 1965.”

UCLA was also where Hazzard met his future wife, Jaleesa, who was a Bruin cheerleader.

Hazzard, attired in a sweater, shorts and sandals, was on campus one day with his roommate, tennis player Arthur Ashe, and said, “See that girl? I’m going to marry her.”

She told him, “Not if you don’t wear socks.” The two were married in May 1964. By then Hazzard’s future lay before him.

— Reported by Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times

Author: Inside Hoops

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