Bob Ferry, longtime NBA executive who built Washington Bullets championship team, dies at 84

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Bob Ferry, an accomplished NBA front office executive and architect of the Washington Bullets’ 1977-78 championship team, died Wednesday. He was 84.

Ferry, the father of former NBA player and longtime front office executive Danny Ferry, had a 10-year career in the NBA as a player but a made a name for himself as general manager of the Baltimore and Washington Bullets.

He was named executive of the year in 1979 and 1982.

In 1977-78, the Bullets finished 44-38, good for second place in the Eastern Conference’s Central Division. They had the third-best record in the conference, and the Julius Erving-led Philadelphia 76ers were favorites to win the title after losing to Portland the previous season.

The Bullets, coached by Dick Motta, had six players average in double figures during the regular season, led by Elvin Hayes (19.7 points and 13.3 rebounds per game) and Bob Dandridge (19.3 points per game).

Washington stunned the Sixers in the conference finals and defeated Seattle in the NBA Finals. Hayes and Dandridge each averaged more than 20 points in the series, but Wes Unseld was named Finals MVP after averaging nine points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists.

A decade later, Ferry hired Unseld to coach the Bullets, and Unseld’s son, Wes Jr., is now the coach of the Washington Wizards.

Ferry hired two African-American coaches during his career with the Bullets — Unseld in 1988 and K.C. Jones in 1973.

Ferry’s Bullets made the playoffs in 13 of 17 seasons, won a title and played in the NBA Finals three times. After his career with Washington, he remained involved in the NBA as a scout.

Not long after the Wizards honored the 1978 title team in 2018, Ferry told the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland: "I looked around at everyone sitting there, and I thought to myself, 'Gee whiz, I’m responsible for all these guys being here — every one of them.' It just gave me a feeling of pride."

Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bob Ferry, longtime NBA executive for Washington, dies at age 84