Armen Gilliam, a former No. 2 overall pick of the Phoenix Suns in 1987, died Wednesday. He was 47.
Police say Gilliam collapsed of a heart attack while playing basketball at LA Fitness in Collier Township, Penn. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead.
This is the second straight week we've had a college hoops star from the '80s die an early death. Last week, Lorenzo Charles crashed while driving a bus in North Carolina.
Gilliam, nicknamed "The Hammer," starred at UNLV on the 1987 team that won a record 38 games and made it to the Final Four. He is considered one of the most beloved Runnin' Rebels of all-time. On Wednesday afternoon, Greg Anthony sent out his regards on Twitter to his fellow Rebel.
Gilliam had a journeyman's career in the NBA. After he played for the Suns, he went on to suit up for the Charlotte Hornets, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz. He retired in 2000.
Gilliam briefly ended his retirement, playing for the Pittsburgh Xplosion (where Gilliam is from), an expansion team in the American Basketball Association in the 2005-2006 season. He was also the team's coach.
At Vegas, Gilliam was the seventh-highest scorer in school history. He put up 1,855 points in his three-year career, and scored a still-standing record of 903 points in the Final Four season of 1986-87. The team was 93-11 while he was there. He averaged 17.3 points and 8.3 rebounds as a Runnin' Rebel.
"I'm all shook up," former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian told the Las Vegas Sun today. "He was such a great person. He would take the shirt of his back for you."In his 13 NBA seasons, Gilliam, a 6-9 forward, averaged 13.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He was always one of the most powerful, physical players in the league, hence the nickname "The Hammer." He was a strong dunker, and while he never really lived up to his draft position, he had a solid 13-year NBA career.
And finally, a did you know: Gilliam's first name was spelled Armon in college and first few years in the NBA, but he later changed it to Armen.
Photo via UNLVRebels.com