"Walt Bellamy was an enormously gifted Hall of Fame player who had a tremendous impact on our game," NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement released by the league. "Off the court, he was an even more extraordinary person. Walt is going to be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. On behalf of the entire NBA family, our condolences and thoughts go out to Walt's family."
The former Indiana University star won an Olympic gold medal in 1960 and was the first overall pick by the Chicago Packers in 1961. He was the rookie of the year with Chicago, averaging 31.6 points and 19.0 rebounds, and also played for the Baltimore Bullets, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Atlanta and New Orleans Jazz. He played in four All-Star games and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.
"The Atlanta Hawks family is saddened to learn of the death of Walt Bellamy at the age of 74 earlier today," the Hawks said in a statement. "The Hawks and the National Basketball Association have lost a giant. As an Olympic gold medalist, the first overall pick in 1961, Rookie of the Year in 1962, a four-time All-Star and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, his on-court accomplishments were overwhelming. Off the court, he was equally impactful as a family man, leader in the community, mentor and friend to many."
Bellamy was traded three times, going from the Bullets to the Knicks in November 1965 for Jim Barnes, Johnny Egan, Johnny Green and cash, then to Detroit along with Howard Komives in December 1968 in the deal that brought star forward Dave DeBusschere to New York. Detroit sent Bellamy to Atlanta in February 1970 for John Arthurs.
In three seasons at Indiana, the 6-foot-11 former New Bern, N.C., high school star averaged 20.6 points and 15.5 rebounds.