Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Ex-Sixer Gilliam dies

Former Sixer and UNLV star Armen Gilliam died Tuesday night of a heart attack.

According to WTAE in Pittsburgh, Gilliam, a 6-foot-9 power forward nicknamed "The Hammer" during his playing days, collapsed while playing basketball at a gym in Collier Township. Penn. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 47.

Gilliam was a star on the top-ranked UNLV Runnin' Rebels team that won a record 38 games and went to the NCAA Final Four in 1987 before being selected with the No. 2 overall pick by the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Draft later that same year.

He also played for the Charlotte Hornets, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz before in a 13-year professional career before retiring in 2000.

Gilliam finished his NBA career with 12,700 points, averaging 13.7 points and 6.9 rebounds in 929 games.

“We are deeply saddened to learn about the loss of Armen Gilliam,” said Sixers president Rod Thorn. “He was a hard-working, physical player during his distinguished 13 years in the NBA and we are proud of the contributions he made to the Sixers from 1990 to 1993.  On behalf of the entire Sixers organization, we send our deepest condolences to the Gilliam family during this very difficult time.”

After finishing his NBA sojourn Gilliam, who was born in Pittsburgh, came back to the area to coach at Penn State McKeesport and Penn State Altoona. He also had briefly ended his retirement, acting as  a player/coach or the Pittsburgh Xplosion in the American Basketball Association during the 2005-2006 season.

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