Basketball Legend Walter Davis Dies at 69
Walter Davis Obituary: Basketball lost a legend this week with the passing of Walter Davis. The former NBA star and University of North Carolina phenom died at the age of 69 while visiting family in Charlotte, North Carolina on November 2nd, 2023. Known for his velvet-smooth jump shot and prolific scoring ability, Davis left an indelible mark on the game of basketball at both the college and professional levels.
Storied Amateur Career at UNC
Walter Davis first made a name for himself playing for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels under the tutelage of legendary coach Dean Smith. During his collegiate career from 1974-1977, Davis put up impressive numbers, tallying 1,863 points and 670 rebounds while dishing out 409 assists. He helped lead the Tar Heels to an ACC tournament title and a spot in the 1977 NCAA championship game. For his standout play, Davis was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
Gold Medalist and Top NBA Draft Pick
After winning a gold medal with Team USA at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Davis entered the 1977 NBA Draft. His amateur pedigree and silky smooth offensive game made him a coveted prospect, and he was selected 5th overall by the Phoenix Suns.
All-Star Scoring Machine for the Suns
Walter Davis spent the bulk of his 15-year NBA career with the Phoenix Suns, for whom he remains the all-time franchise scoring leader with 15,666 total points. His ability to drive to the basket and shoot with a feathery soft touch quickly made him a fan favorite. Davis was selected as an NBA All-Star six times, earning the nickname “The Greyhound” for his speed and scoring prowess.
“The Man with the Velvet Touch”
Suns broadcaster Al McCoy bestowed Davis with nicknames like “The Candyman” and “The Man with the Velvet Touch” for his smooth offensive game. Later in his career, Davis spent time with the Denver Nuggets, who also marveled at his graceful scoring ability.
Jersey Retired by the Suns
In 1994, just a few years after his retirement from the NBA, the Phoenix Suns retired Davis’ #6 jersey. It was a fitting honor for the beloved star who gave so much to the franchise.
Connection to Current UNC Coach Hubert Davis
Walter Davis maintained close ties to his alma mater UNC throughout his life. His nephew, Hubert Davis, played for the Tar Heels in the 1990s before embarking on his own lengthy NBA career. Today, Hubert Davis coaches the UNC men’s basketball team, bringing Davis’ legacy full circle.
Remembering a Legend
Walter Davis’ passing at the age of 69 has saddened the basketball community. He was a true legend of the game, lighting up scoreboards with his trademark jumper for over a decade in the NBA. But beyond his prolific scoring and All-Star resume, Davis will be remembered for the grace, poise and class he brought to the court each night. The “Candyman’s” velvet touch may be gone, but his legacy lives on.