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Armen Gilliam, 13-year NBA veteran, UNLV star, dies

Jul 6, 2011, 12:51 PM EDT

armen gilliam

Armen Gilliam, one of the best players ever to come out of UNLV who went on to spend 13 years as an underappreciated player in the NBA, has passed away at the age of 47.

“The Hammer” (as he was nicknamed) died from a heart attack suffered while playing pickup basketball not far from his home in Pittsburgh, according to the Associated Press.

Gilliam was the No. 2 pick overall of the Phoenix Suns in the 1987 NBA draft (behind David Robinson but ahead of guys like Scottie Pippen and Reggie Miller). He was a solid all-around power forward who could score in the lane and crash the boards. He went on to have a good career largely playing on bad teams, averaging 13.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.

He played for the Suns, Hornets, Sixers, Nets, Bucks and Jazz in his 13 years in the NBA, making the playoffs five times and never getting out of the second round. For many of those teams he was one of the best players, a leader in the locker room and a fan favorite.

At UNLV he helped lead the team to the Final Four in 1987.

  1. purdueman - Jul 6, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    He Gone!!!

    I don’t of course know what his personal situation was, but I will tell you that most men are too damned pig headed to simply go in and get a physical at least every other year (if for no other reason than to have their prostate gland checked, as it is one of the most curable cancers if caught early).

    It was during my last annual physical that I had non diet related high cholesterol that could have led to a heart attack if unchecked. So instead of dropping dead on my family, I now simply take one generic medication a day. Honest fella’s… it’s that simple!

    • ac0117 - Jul 6, 2011 at 1:18 PM

      What’s simple is you. Stop posting “he gone” whenever there’s an article about someone dying. Additionally, I like your assumption that he died because he didn’t take care of his health, get a physical, etc. How do we know he didn’t die to a large heart, arrythmia, one of those things that just comes up?


      • purdueman - Jul 6, 2011 at 3:49 PM

        Unless you were a relative of, or had a personal relationship with (as in being on a first name basis), there’s absolutely no reason for you (or anyone else), to get your panties all in a knot. I never met the man and don’t even have the remote connection of him going to the same University that I attended either, so please, lighten up!

        You know, people die every day and our soldiers who are getting killed in Iraq and Afghanistan don’t get anywhere’s near the publicity that former jocks do in this country. They are fighting for our freedom and oftentimes leave behind wives with young families, which to me is far more tragic that a former middle aged jock dying from playing a pick up basketball game.

        That’s not to say that my thoughts and prayers don’t go out to Gilliam’s family though; I just believe that death should result in a celebration of ones life, not pity.

        If he did have a large heart, arrythmia or one of those things, that would have been caught by a full routine physical too, Dumb@ss!

      • passerby23 - Jul 7, 2011 at 12:41 AM

        @ purdueman

        Not to turn this into a political debate, but I don’t think everyone shares the “troops are fighting for our freedom” sentiment.

  2. redbear18 - Jul 6, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    Wow, you’re cool. A great player and person just died, and instead of RIP or something for the first comment, you post a medical lecture blaming him for his death. Nobody wants to hear that! RIP from a UNLV student. You will be missed.

  3. theripster30 - Jul 6, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    As a kid, I had the opportunity to meet Armen and shoot hoops with him a few times while he was a player for the bucks. He was such a good guy who gave me the impression he was enjoying my company as much as I was his. NBA players today should conduct themselves the way this man did… a pro’s pro. To me, Mr. Gilliam was the nicest nba player around. Thanks for the memories, Hammer. This is terrible news.

  4. downtowndanny - Jul 6, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    i used to collect basketball cards as a kid, and while cleaning up the other day I ran across his card and it stood out from all the rest, strange irony I guess. And purdueman you’re a bonehead, somebody should probably rock your snotbox for all the dumb things you post. ignorance must be bliss…..

    • purdueman - Jul 6, 2011 at 5:18 PM

      bonehead? Takes one to know one you know, and since I don’t know you, that would make you the bonehead, fella.

  5. trbowman - Jul 6, 2011 at 6:21 PM

    Some horrible posts on this topic.

  6. proudwolf - Jul 6, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    Rest In Peace

  7. Ed Peterson - Jul 6, 2011 at 9:41 PM

    numerology for Armen Gilliam:

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