Hal Greer, the Philadelphia 76ers guard who teamed with fellow Basketball Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham, and Chet Walker to lead the 1966-67 Sixers to an NBA Championship, has died. He was 81.
In a statement posted on the NBA’s official website on Monday, the 76ers did not mention any specific cause of death, but noted that Greer died “after a brief illness” in his Arizona home on Saturday night, according to USA Today.
Hal Greer spent his entire 15-year NBA career with the Syracuse Nationals and Philadelphia 76ers, appearing in 10 All-Star Games and averaging 19.2 points, with his 21,586 career points making him the leading scorer in franchise history. As recalled by USA Today, he stood out for his midrange shooting and overall consistency, with Fox News also noting that Greer is considered by many to rank only behind Oscar Robertson and Jerry West as the third best NBA guard of the 1960s.
Born in 1936 in Huntington, West Virginia, Greer became Marshall University’s first-ever African-American scholarship athlete and played three seasons for the Thundering Herd, averaging 19.4 points over his collegiate career. He was selected in the second round of the 1958 draft, going 13th overall to the Syracuse Nationals, who later became the 76ers when they moved to Philadelphia ahead of the 1963-64 NBA season.
It was in Philadelphia where Hal Greer won his only NBA Championship, as the 76ers defeated the Bill Russell-led Boston Celtics in the 1966-67 Eastern Division Finals, before facing the San Francisco (now Golden State) Warriors in the NBA Finals. According to his NBA Legends player profile, Greer averaged 27.7 points throughout the entire 1967 postseason and joined forces with forwards Billy Cunningham and Chet Walker and center Wilt Chamberlain to defeat the Warriors in seven games. All four were later inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Greer retired after the 1972-73 season, having averaged just 5.6 points and played 38 games while pulling double duty as the Sixers’ assistant coach.
“Hal Greer’s talent, drive, tenacity and unforgettable jump shot made him a Hall of Famer and one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history,” read a statement from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
“An NBA champion and the 76ers’ career scoring leader, he also embraced a leading role in the racial integration of basketball at Marshall University and his home state of West Virginia. As the NBA family mourns Hal’s passing, we celebrate his deep and lasting impact on our game.”
In recognition of Hal Greer’s impact on the Philadelphia 76ers franchise, the team will pay tribute to him during Monday night’s game against the Miami Heat, the second game in their ongoing first-round playoff series.