Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Walter Davis, an All-Star at UNC and in the NBA, a member of the gold-medal-winning 1976 U.S. Olympic basketball team and uncle of UNC’s head coach Hubert DavisHe died this morning of natural causes while visiting his family in Charlotte, North Carolina
Davis, 69, was one of the best shooters in Carolina basketball history. A member of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the native of Pineville, N.C., earned All-ACC honors twice in 1976 and as a senior in 1977, when he led the Tar Heels to an ACC Tournament title and an ACC Tournament appearance. NCAA Championship Game.
He scored 1,863 points, grabbed 670 rebounds, and provided 409 assists while playing under coach Dean Smith.
This season is the 50th anniversary of Davis’ 25-foot shot at the buzzer against Duke that capped an eight-point comeback in the final 17 seconds of regulation to send the game into overtime, where the Tar Heels won. It’s one of the most iconic moments in college basketball, and even as a freshman, he cemented his place in Carolina basketball history.
Davis won the NBA Rookie of the Year award with the Phoenix Suns in 1978. He was a five-time NBA All-Star and the Suns retired the No. 6 pick.
“Walter and I have known each other for 50 years. We met when I was a senior in high school and was coming to Carolina as a football recruit. Walter, Tommy Lagarde, and Mitch Kupchak were my hosts, and we just became great friends. When we were in school together, He and I were best friends. He was the best man at my wedding, and I was the best man at his wedding.
“For the last 50 years, we’ve stayed in touch with each other and were each other’s best friends. He loved me and I loved him. He was a great, great, great man who happened to be a great basketball player.” I’ve always said he could have been named Most Valuable Player of the 1975 ACC Tournament just like I did.
“I’m going to miss him so much. I’m glad I saw him two weeks ago in Chapel Hill, but this is very difficult. I’d like to believe he’s in a better place now but I’m leaving.” I miss my friend so much. I don’t know anyone who says bad things about Walt. I get calls from people all over the country – John Lucas, Scott May, Quinn Buckner, David Thompson. Everyone in the world was thinking about Walt, just as all the Carolina players and fans did.
“I’m lucky to have been teammates and friends, and I thank God for having him in my life all these years.”
Former UNC coach Roy Williams:
“This is a sad day, saddened by the passing of Walter Davis, one of the all-time great basketball players and a most beautiful person. Coach [Dean] Smith and coach [Bill] Guthridge used to talk about how much fun it was to coach Walter. I watched him as a fan and loved getting to know him later. The big shot to end the “Eight Points in 17 Seconds” game against Duke will stay with us forever, as will many other great moments. Walter is a truly great Tar Heel.”
“Alcohol enthusiast. Twitter ninja. Tv lover. Falls down a lot. Hipster-friendly coffee geek.”