A True Legend Passes

February 1, 2012

Former UCLA and NBA star Walt Hazzard, who played on John Wooden's first NCAA championship team and later coached the Bruins for four seasons in the 1980s, died of complications from heart surgery on Friday. A longtime NBRPA member and strong supporter of the retired players organization, Hazzard was 69-years old.

Hazzard’s family said he had been recuperating for some time after a difficult heart surgery. Hazzard had a stroke in March 1996 and made a strong recovery, but became less publicly active.

Hazzard helped the United States win a gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and played 10 years in the NBA, including stints with the Los Angeles Lakers, who made him a first-round selection, and four other teams.

Hazzard averaged 12.6 points and 4.9 assists during his career with the Lakers, Seattle, Atlanta, Buffalo and Golden State. He ranked among the league’s top 10 in assists during six of his seasons. In 1968, he averaged 23.9 points and 6.2 assists, culminating in an appearance in the All-Star game.

During his four years as UCLA coach, the Bruins were 77-47. In 1985, he led them to their first NIT title. In 1987, UCLA won the Pac-10 title and the league’s first postseason tournament, led by Reggie Miller. They finished 25-7, losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament, with Hazzard chosen league coach of the year.

Walter Raphael Hazzard Jr. was born on April 15, 1942, in Philadelphia and played for Overbrook High School there before attending UCLA. Hazzard is survived by his wife, Jaleesa, a Bruins song girl during the 1964 NCAA title season, and his sons Yakub, Jalal, Khalil and Rasheed.