CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — Walter Davis, a former NBA All-Star and one of the best shooters to ever play at the University of North Carolina, has died at the age of 69.
According to the university, Davis died Thursday morning of natural causes while visiting family in Charlotte.
The Pineville native was also the uncle of current UNC men’s basketball head coach Hubert Davis.
Walter Davis was a two-time All-ACC player, and as a senior in 1977, he helped lead the Tar Heels to the NCAA championship game.
During his freshman year, Davis hit a buzzer-beater at the end of regulation against Duke to send the game into overtime.
Davis scored 1,863 points, pulled down 670 rebounds and dished out 409 assists during his career at UNC under head coach Dean Smith.
Davis was also a member of Team USA’s gold-medal-winning basketball squad — coached by Smith — at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.
After his time in Chapel Hill, Davis went on to the NBA, where he won Rookie of the Year honors in 1978 as a member of the Phoenix Suns. He was a five-time NBA All-Star, and the Suns retired his No. 6 jersey.
Former UNC star Phil Ford, who also played with Davis for three years, released the following statement on the passing of his old teammate:
“Walter and I knew each other for 50 years. We met when I was a senior in high school and I was coming up to Carolina as a recruit at football games. 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.
Throughout the last 50 years, we’ve remained in contact with each other and were best friends to each other. He loved me and I loved him. He was a great, great, great guy that happened to be a great basketball player. I’ve always said he could have been selected MVP in the 1975 ACC Tournament just as much as I was.
I am going to miss him dearly. I’m happy I got to see him a couple of weeks ago in Chapel Hill, but this is very hard. I would like to believe he’s in a better place right now but I’m going to dearly miss my friend. I don’t know anybody that says bad things about Walt. I’m getting calls from people all around the country – John Lucas, Scott May, Quinn Buckner, David Thompson. Everybody thought the world about Walt, just like all of us Carolina players and fans did.
I’m blessed we were teammates and friends and I thank God I had him in my life all these years.”
Former UNC head coach Roy Williams also provided a statement on Davis and his importance to the men’s basketball program:
“This is a sad, sad day with the passing of Walter Davis, one of our all-time great basketball players and an even nicer person. Coach Smith and Coach Guthridge used to rave about how much fun it was to coach Walter. I got to watch 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 fantastic moments. Walter is a truly great Tar Heel.”