Walter Davis, five-time NBA All-Star and North Carolina standout, dies at 69

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Walter Davis, a five-time NBA All-Star who had his number retired by the Phoenix Suns, has died. He was 69.

Davis was star in college for North Carolina where he played for the late Dean Smith. It was North Carolina, where Davis' nephew Hubert Davis is the Tar Heels' basketball coach, which announced Water Davis' death Thursday.

The school's release said Walter Davis died Thursday morning of natural causes while visiting famil y in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Walter Davis was drafted fifth overall by Phoenix in 1977 and became the NBA rookie of the year after averaging 24.2 points a game. He played 11 of his 16 pro seasons with the Suns, who retired his No. 6.

Davis moved to Denver for three seasons and Portland for one before returning to the Nuggets in 1992-1993 for his final year.

In college, Davis was practically unstoppable as he led one of the top programs in the game. He helped the Tar Heels to the NCAA title game in 1977, where they lost to Marquette.

Former North Carolina assistant coach and head coach Roy Williams said Smith and assistant coach Bill 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.”

Davis is 10th all-time in scoring in Tar Heels' history. His 106 games with double-figure scoring are fourth all-time at North Carolina, trailing only Phil Ford, Sam Perkins and Tyler Hansbrough.

Ford said he and Davis were best friends almost from the time they met nearly 50 years ago. “He was the best man at my wedding and I was the best man at his,” Ford said in a statement.

“He loved me and I loved him,” Ford continued. “He was a great, great, great guy that happened to be a great basketball player.”

Walter Davis, from Pineville, North Carolina, is part of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. He was named to the ACC's 50th anniversary team in 2002.

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