Willie Naulls, a four-time NBA All-Star forward who was an All-American for Hall of Fame coach John Wooden at UCLA, has died. He was 84.
The cause of death in Laguna Niguel, Calif., was respiratory failure, his wife, Dr. Anne Van de Water Naulls, told The New York Times.
A member of three consecutive NBA title teams with the Celtics in a career spanning 10 seasons, Naulls also was a four-time All-Star with the Knicks.
While with the Knicks in the early 1960s, he was named a team captain, the first black to hold that position on a major U.S. professional sports team, according to the Knicks.
Considered a dogged rebounder and strong outside shooter, Naulls — a 6-6, 225-pound forward — was an All-American in 1955 at UCLA.
He played in his first NBA All-Star Game in January 1958, joining Bill Russell and Maurice Stokes as the only black players on the court, according to the Times.
Naulls retired in 1966 after his three championship seasons with the Celtics. He averaged 15.8 points and 9.1 rebounds per game in 10 seasons.