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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Dan Gartland

Former NBA All-Star, Olympic Gold Medalist Walter Davis Dies at 69

Former North Carolina and NBA forward Walter Davis has died, the school announced Thursday. He was 69. 

Davis, a native of Pineville, N.C., played four years with the Tar Heels before being selected by the Suns with the fifth pick of the 1977 NBA draft. He ranks among the best sharpshooters in UNC history with a career .531 field goal percentage. 

Davis‘s most famous shot came as a freshman in 1974 when he hit a long jumper at the buzzer to force overtime against archrival Duke, completing an improbable Tar Heels comeback from down eight with 17 seconds to play. UNC went on to win in overtime. 

After his junior year, Davis was part of the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Davis played in all six games, averaging 4.3 points per game. 

As a pro, Davis, nicknamed “the Man with the Velvet Touch,” was named to six All-Star teams, including in each of his first four seasons, and won the Rookie of the Year award in 1978. He played the majority of his career with the Suns before rounding out his career with the Trail Blazers and Nuggets

Though not in the Hall of Fame, Davis ranks in some pretty rarified air in the NBA record books, ranking 98th in career field goal percentage (.512) and 66th in career free throw percentage (.851). His No. 6 jersey is one of 10 numbers retired by the Phoenix franchise.

Davis is an uncle of current Tar Heels men’s basketball coach Hubert Davis.

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