NBA Wizards pay tribute to Unseld with jersey patch

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Washington basketball legend Wes Unseld, at left with former teammate Elvin Hayes, will be honored with jersey patches on Washington Wizards uniforms after his death last month at age 74 (AFP Photo/Ned Dishman)
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Washington (AFP) - Wes Unseld, a star on Washington's only NBA championship squad who died last month, will be remembered with a jersey patch during the Wizards' upcoming games in the NBA bubble.

Team owner Ted Leonsis said Thursday the Wizards will pay tribute to Unseld by wearing a patch with his retired jersey number, 41, on the right shoulder of their jerseys.

The NBA season shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic and 22 teams, including Washington, will resume play July 30 in a quarantine environment at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Unseld, who died June 2 at age 74, was the second overall pick of the 1968 NBA Draft by the Baltimore Bullets, who became the Washington Bullets and later the Wizards.

Outmatched in height by most rivals at center at 6-foot-7 (2.01m), Unseld was the 1969 NBA Most Valuable Player and led the Bullets to the NBA Finals four times in the 1970s, including to their only crown in 1978.

Since 1979, the Wizards franchise has never gone past the second round of the NBA playoffs despite Unseld's efforts as a player until 1981, vice president from 1981-88, coach from 1988-1994 and general manager from 1996-2003. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of fame in 1988.

"Wes was a great player and a tremendous human being who we all admired as a pillar of this franchise for so long," Leonsis said. "We're honored to pay tribute to him."